Diseases & Conditions

Why do I have white spots on my nails?

Ask the doctors

By , Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor, and , Editor at Large, Harvard Women's Health Watch

close-up photo of a woman's hands holding a mug; her fingernails have white spots

Q. My fingernails are sprinkled with tiny white spots. Why do these form?

A. These nail spots are a common occurrence — and usually don't signal a serious problem — but it may take some sleuthing to figure out why you've developed them. The most likely cause of white spots on the nails is minor trauma of some sort, whether from a rough manicure involving filing and cuticle cutting or excessive tapping of the hands and fingers on a hard surface.

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About the Authors

photo of Toni Golen, MD

Toni Golen, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Women's Health Watch; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing; Contributor

Dr. Toni Golen is a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, practicing in Boston. Dr. Golen completed her residency training at George Washington University Medical Center in 1995, and is an associate professor at Harvard Medical … See Full Bio
View all posts by Toni Golen, MD
photo of Hope Ricciotti, MD

Hope Ricciotti, MD, Editor at Large, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Dr. Hope A. Ricciotti is Editor at Large of Harvard Women’s Health Watch. She is an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, and leads the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and … See Full Bio
View all posts by Hope Ricciotti, MD

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