Most people at some time or another will notice that on the pinky part of their fingernail there might be a white spot.
This painless condition is called leuconychia, and usually goes away when the nail grows out.
But what are they and where do they come from?
One common, but incorrect, assumption is that the nail is showing weakness from not getting enough calcium - but this is not true.
Nails are formed from keratin - the same stuff as your hair - as opposed to the stuff that makes up your bones. So having less calcium than normal doesn’t make a difference to how they appear.
A much more likely cause is that at some point when that part of your nail was forming (about 6 weeks before it actually appears at the end of your finger) the top part of your finger received a sharp knock.
This slight injury can cause a white spot to appear as an indication that the nail was damaged slightly when forming.
Common causes of damage include:
- Accidentally banging or squashing your fingers.
- Manicures where there is excessive pressure being put on the base of the nail.
- Biting or chewing on your nails.
In some cases white spots can indicate an allergy to a particular nail polish or nail treatment. If you think this might be you, take a break from that product and see if the white spots decrease.
While some illnesses can cause discolouration of the nails, it is unlikely to be your first symptom as nails take about 6 weeks to grow in.
If you feel good, but notice a white spot or two, don’t panic - you probably just knocked your hand a couple months ago.
This article originally appeared on thatslife.com.au.