Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Ingrown Toenail Anatomy

To better understand an ingrown toenail, it helps to understand the anatomy of the toenail.

Nail Anatomy

  • Nail plate:
    • This is another name for the fingernail
  • Matrix:
    • This is the portion of the nail that produces the nail plate. Cells in the matrix eventually form the nail plate
  • Lunula:
    • The white "half moon shaped" area at the base of the nail. The matrix extends down to the edge of the lunula
  • Hyponychium:
    • The hyponychium is the junction of the nail bed and the fingertip skin, beneath the distal free margin of the nail plate
  • Nail bed:
    • The nail bed extends from the lunula to the hyponychium. As additional cells are produced by the matrix, the nail plate progresses (grows) distally on the surface of the nail bed. The nail bed acts as a guiding surface for the advancing nail plate.
  • Eponychium:
    • The thin skin adherent to the nail at its base
  • Perionychium or nail groove:
    • The lateral skin fold; the nail grows distally because it is guided by this fold of skin. Infection or injury to the area can result in a deformed or ingrown nail.

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Ingrown Toenail References
  1. Gupta S, Sahoo B, Kumar B. Treating ingrown toenails by nail splinting with a flexible tube: an Indian experience. J Dermatol. 2001 Sep;28(9):485-9. [11603389]
  2. Persichetti P, Simone P, Li Vecchi G, Di Lella F, Cagli B, Marangi GF. Wedge excision of the nail fold in the treatment of ingrown toenail. Ann Plast Surg. 2004 Jun;52(6):617-20. [15167000]
  3. Takahashi M, Narisawa Y. Radical surgery for ingrown nails by partial resection of the nail plate and matrix using a carbon dioxide laser. J Cutan Laser Ther. 2000 Mar;2(1):21-5. [11446087]
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