The nail bed is the pinkish-colored soft tissue underneath your nail plate (the hard part of your nail).
Nail beds aren’t one-size-fit-all. They’re different shapes and sizes. Some people have shorter nail beds while others have longer ones.
Some people are unhappy with their shorter nail beds because they feel it makes their nails look too short. While you can’t change the size of your nail beds, the good news is that you can make them appear longer. Read on to learn more.
While you can’t change the size of your nail beds, there are things you can do to make them appear longer. Try these three tips:
1. Grow out your nails
First step is to let your nails grow out. As your nails become longer, you’ll have a longer white tip, which helps elongate your nail bed. If you have difficulty growing your own nails, artificial nails can protect your real nails from cracks and breaks.
2. Use a nail brush for cleaning instead of a nail scraper
You can also make your nail beds appear longer by cleaning underneath your nails with a nail brush instead of metal nail tools. Using a sharp object to clean underneath nails can cause slight damage and separation of the nail plate from the nail bed.
3. Push back your cuticles
You can also push back your cuticles to give the appearance of a longer nail bed. Before pushing back your cuticles, soak your nails in warm water to soften your cuticles. Add a few drops of essential oil or cuticle oil to the water.
Soak your nails for about five minutes, dry with a clean cloth, and then use a cuticle stick to gently push back your cuticles.
Genetics mostly determines the size and shape of nail beds. So, if your mother or father has a short nail bed, you might have a short nail bed, too.
Although genetics is the biggest determining factor in the shape and length of your nail bed, other factors may affect the size of this area. Some of these factors can make your nail beds appear shorter than they actually are. They include:
- Nail injuries. Sometimes, nail beds appear shorter after a nail injury. Some injuries might cause your nail to separate from the nail bed. This can happen if you hit your finger or if you damage your nail opening a soda can. When the nail separates from the nail bed near the tip, you’ll have a longer white section and a shorter pink section.
- Nail biting. Biting your fingernails or cutting your fingernails too short can give the appearance of a shorter nail bed. This is due to little or no whiteness at the tip.
- Fungal infections. Your nail bed can also appear shorter if you develop a nail fungal infection. This also causes your nail plate to separate from the nail bed.
Your nail is made up of different parts. The nail plate is the most visible part of your nail. The nail bed supports the hard part of your nail as it grows. It includes the hyponychium and the onychodermal. These are layers of tissue that prevent pathogens from infecting the skin underneath your nail plate.
Nails also consists of the nail matrix. This part of the nail produces new nail plate cells. It includes the lunula, the half-moon shape at the base of your nail. The lunula is mostly observed on the thumb.
Nails also have an eponychium, which is skin at the base of the nail plate. This differs from the cuticle, which is dead skin tissue between the nail plate and the eponychium. Your cuticle prevents infections in this part of your nail.
Nail growth occurs when new nail plate cells form and multiply underneath the skin. These newer cells move older cells upward, and they eventually surface from under the skin at the lunula.
Nails grow at a slow pace. Typically, they grow about 2.5 millimeters a month. According to KidsHealth, it can take up to 3 to 6 months to grow a completely new nail.
Although genetics play a big role in determining the size and shape of your nail beds, there are ways to make your nail beds (and your nails) appear longer. Avoiding certain habits — like cutting your nail too short and biting your nails — can make a difference, too.
Also, treating a fungal nail infection can help the nail plate reattach to your nail bed. It also helps to push back your cuticles and allow your nails to grow longer.
Together, these steps can give the appearance of a longer nail bed, helping you feel more confident about your nails and hands.