Nail anatomy, with eponychium labeled as "nail fold".
Longitudinal section through nail and its nail groove (sulcus).
In human anatomy, the eponychium, or cuticle, is the thickened layer of skin surrounding fingernails and toenails. It can also be called the medial or proximal nail fold. Its function is to protect the area between the nail and epidermis from exposure to bacteria. The vascularization pattern is similar to that of perionychium.
The word eponychium comes from Greek ἐπί (epí), meaning 'on top of', and ὀνῠ́χιον (onúkhion), meaning 'little claw'.
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