Nails and Nail Conditions
Today’s blog will look at nails. We will consider some general facts about healthy nails and also look at an unpleasant nail conditions called onychomycosis, a fungal infection that threatens the condition of all the nails if left untreated.
- Finger nails grow faster than toe nails
- Finger nails grow 10mm in three months whereas, toe nail grow at about a third of that rate.
- Nails grow quicker in summer
- Rate of nail growth decreases with age
- Minor trauma stimulates growth unless the nail bed is damaged and then this inhibits growth.
WHAT IS A NAIL?
Nails are a hard plate of Keratinised cells; and are the end product of the matrix which contains the onychocytes which control growth.
FUNCTION OF THE NAIL
- Protection of the dorsal surfaces of toes and fingers
- Picking up of objects
- Fine touch (counter pressure in toes)
They are also a good indicator of the state of health, as many systemic conditions manifest themselves in the nails.
NAIL ANATOMY DIAGRAMS
DESCRIPTION OF ANATOMICAL COMPONENTS
THE NAIL PLATE
The nail plate consists of three layers, dorsal, intermediate and ventral. The three layers are ridges to adhere to the nail bed. The appearance is pink due to the underlying vascularise showing through its translucence.
The area which produce the majority of the nail plate Onychocytes are formed here. They replicate and move distally. New cells emerge at the proximal nail fold, forming the nail plate. The most proximal (posterior) matrix cells form the superficial nail layer.
PROXIMAL NAIL FOLD
Extension of the skin which becomes a fold and consists of modified stratum corneum devoid of sebaceous glands. It terminates in the cuticle.
The function of the cuticle is to protect the nail from irritants, allergens and bacterial fungal pathogens.
The Lunula lies at the proximal part of the nail and forms the white ‘half moon’ in normal health. It is the most distal region of the matrix.
The hyponychium is the termination of the distal nail groove and the point at which the free edge of the nail emerges.
The blood supply is by paired digital arteries which anastomose in several places to supply the bed and matrix and they terminate at the apex of the digits. Glomus bodies are present which unlike the arterioles dilate in adverse cold conditions thus maintaining the temperature of the nail and preventing damage.
The nerve supply is prolific from of volar and dorsal digital nerves, hence the very acute sensitivity of the nails.
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection. The aetiology of which is an infection caused by a variety of pathological dermatophytes. These include; Trichophyton Rubrum, Trichophyton Interdigitale, Trichophyton Mentagrophytes, Candida, Aspergillums and Scopulariopsis which are also possible causes.
The features of this condition are that the nails become porous and distorted; they can appear yellow, brown, black etc. They can also be very crumbly in texture. Treatments can include thinning of the nail plate and the application of topical anti-fungal agents. Sometimes treatment can be medical such as Lamisil. This is a drug which is prescribed by a doctor it can also be effective. However, here at the Beauchamp Foot Care clinic, we can offer the latest technology to combat the spread of fungal infection. Our practitioners are registered with the Health Professions Council and are members of the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists and are specialized in treating patients who suffer with toe nail fungus. The treatment kills the bacteria that causes the infection with proven clinical results and no side effects! Further information and cost can be found on the website.
Information taken from The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists ‘Continuing professional Development
All information on this website is for general guidance only and is not intended as a substitute for the personal medical advice of health care professionals or your own doctor.