White spots on your nails - the facts

These little white marks on your nails are also known 'milk spots' (leukonychia punctata). They are characterised by small marks or dots on your nails that don't go completely across the whole nail. They are very common and should disappear completely on their own.

5 reasons for white spots on your nails:

- Minor trauma or bashing of the nail

- Nail biting or picking of the nails

- A mild infection at the base of the nail

- Reaction or allergy to a nail polish

- After removal of acrylic nails (most likely due to trauma or a reaction to the adhesive used).

Is there a nutritional link?

White spots are not usually thought to be linked to calcium, zinc or other nutritional deficiencies. As long as you have a reasonably healthy diet, I wouldn't worry.

On average, your fingernails take eight months to fully grow out so you would expect 'white spots' to slowly grow out over this time. Toenails grow half as quickly again, so be ready for white spots to take over a year to grow from your big toe should you get them there!

A final note

If you have brown or purple streaks on your nail (that do not resolve), please get this checked by your GP. Occasionally, it can be a sign of skin cancer, but this is pretty rare, so don't worry.


Dr Jennifer Kelly is a GP and founder of the Grace Kelly Ladybird Appeal charity (for awareness and research into childhood cancers).