If our eyes are the window to our soul, then our nails are the window to our overall bodily health. No, the latter doesn’t sound quite as romantic as the former. However, the state of our natural nails can alert us to potential infections or diseases going on in our insides. Paying attention to those little guys is pretty important. So, should we be worrying about those white spots on our nails? Are they trying to tell us about some shady business?


More often than not, those little white spots or lines, known as Punctate leukonychia or “milk spots,” are harmless. And contrary to common belief, they have nothing to do with a zinc or calcium deficiency.


According to YouTube’s SciShow, those spots usually pop up after the nail goes through some sort of trauma. If you bump your nail against something, the layers of keratin that make up your nail can be disturbed, and that minor trauma shows up as a white spot on the nail bed.

Although opaque white spots on the nails are usually benign, other types of nail discoloration warrant a doctor’s appointment. For example, if you have multiple horizontal white lines on most or all of your nails, you may have fallen victim to lead or arsenic poisoning. This type of nail discoloration is classified as Mees’ lines.

Those undergoing chemotherapy treatment may also see Mees’ lines appear over time.

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Here is a photo of Mees’ lines for comparison:

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DermNet NZ notes that lighter-colored nails with a darker pink band near the tip can be a sign of systemic illness. These types of nails can signal major health issues like heart failure, liver cirrhosis, and chronic kidney disease, but can also mean one is struggling with an iron or zinc deficiency.

Consulting your doctor with any nail-related woes is always a good idea if you think there is cause for concern.

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Luckily, when it comes to those simple little white spots, you really don’t have much to worry about. Just be more careful about where you’re swinging your hands to avoid more nail trauma in the future.


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