From time to time, you might notice little white spots on your fingernails, like this:
You've likely heard that these spots indicate health issues, such as calcium deficiency. But as Dr. Jessica Krant, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Huffington Post that's not true:
“Calcium deficiency causing white spots on nails is the most common myth, followed by zinc deficiency. The truth is that white spots are common and harmless and don't indicate any specific vitamin deficiency at all.”
Dr. Andrew Weil agrees, explaining the white spots, also known as 'Leukonychia,' are most often caused by injuries:
“Most of the time the white spots simply are a sign of some past injury to the matrix (base) of your nails. By the time the white spot shows up (about six weeks after the injury) you've probably forgotten all about banging or knocking your fingers. Sometimes, the injury can stem from a manicure that put excessive pressure on the base of the nails.”
Weil also says white fingernails could be due to an allergic reaction you have to a nail polish or a mild infection.
While the spots are temporary, they grow out as your nail grows, and depending on how fast your nails grow, it can take up to eight months for the Leukonychia to be completely gone.
Nails typically grow about one eight of an inch per month, which can change if you're pregnant or your climate changes. However, poor nutrition, aging and infections are said to slow nail growth.
The only time you should be concerned about a spot on your nail is if it's dark in color. Dr. Marsha Gordon explains in Good Housekeeping:
“Watch out for dark marks. If you recently hurt your hand (say, in a car door), don't worry. But if not, and you see a black, brown, or purple band on your nail, it could be a sign of skin cancer. See a doctor right away.”
Often times, Googling our symptoms or health problems can lead to a downward spiral of anxiety. So the next time you see a white speck on your fingernail, take a deep breath and relax — you'll probably be just fine.