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What Is the Fingernail Bed?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 August 2014
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The fingernail bed refers to the thin area of skin which sits just below the fingernail. This skin gives fingernails their pink appearance and can also be a good indicator of nail and overall health. For example, the fingernail bed can sometimes become injured or infected. When this happens, a yellow or blue appearance may be present on the nail. These conditions can indicate poor hygiene or an underlying illness or widespread infection.

Most times the fingernail bed is highly sensitive and sometimes tender. When trimming the nails, one must be careful not to cut to the “quick,” or beginning of the nail bed. This can be very painful and may open up the area to future infections and injury. If the nail is cut too far and soreness or bleeding occurs, the area should be kept clean and possibly bandaged with a disinfectant.

If the nails begin to take on a yellow or off-white color, this could indicate an underlying infection. Fingernail bed infections are fairly common and are usually nothing to worry about; however, they should still be diagnosed by a doctor. In some rare cases, discolored nail beds could indicate an underlying illness or infection elsewhere in the body. Other signs of infection include thick or brittle nails and sometimes a mild odor. Soreness or pain combined with redness or pus indicate a more serious infection that should be examined by a doctor immediately.

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Sometimes the fingernail bed can become injured, primarily if the nail is crushed or bent. Blood may pool into the center of the nail bed and cause severe discoloration and bruising. If the injury is not severe, the skin should heal on its own within a week or two. More harmful injuries may result in fractures or sprains, and should be checked by a doctor. If a wound takes longer than usual to heal or is accompanied by signs of infection, a doctor’s visit is in order.

The fingernail bed is very susceptible to injury in cases where an injury or other circumstances lead to the removal of the nail. If this situation occurs, the area should be covered with a bandage and special care should be taken not to inflict further injury. Any injury resulting in the loss of the nail should be seen by a doctor.

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