The nail bed is the skin under your actual fingernail or toenail (aka nail plate) upon which the nail grows. It contains all the nerves, blood vessels and skin cells that help produce the keratin your nail is made of.
Since the nail takes its shape directly from the bed it runs on — healthy nails require a healthy nail bed. If the nail bed is injured by accident (your finger gets squashed), or becomes infected and the skin is permanently damaged, the nail may split or develop grooves. Though this is usually not painful, it can be ugly and embarrassing.
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