Do You Have White Spots (Half Moon) On Your Nails? Here’s What They Mean

Written by Tanya Arora  • 

Fingernails come in all shapes and sizes. Some have brittle nails, while others have them literally as hard as nails! Some have spots, lines, and ridges while others don’t. Even the color of the nails can vary from person to person! Of all the interesting variations your nails can develop, one of the most interesting of them all is that whitish half-moon on the bed of your fingernails (and sometimes even toenails).

Known as the ‘lunula’ (plural: lunulae), these crescent-like shapes on your nails are actually quite important too. And if you’ve always wondered what they are all about, you’ve come to the right place! Read on to know everything there is to know about these peculiar half-moons on the nails.

What Ancient Chinese Medicine Has To Say About The Lunulae

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According to ancient Chinese medicine, the lunulae are a measure of your health. The shape and size of the lunulae, as well as the fingers it is present on, can be counted as an indicator of the health problems your body is going through. In fact, if your lunulae decrease in size or vanish entirely then that means your health has gone for a toss and there’s probably something that’s ailing you. The converse is also true, i.e. when your lunulae reappear and go back to their original condition, then that means your health has been restored.

Even palmistry places immense importance on the presence of the lunulae, and palmists believe that the absence of these half-moons is an indication of an underactive thyroid gland as well as low blood pressure. The same also applies to very small-sized lunulae as well. Moreover, palmists also say that very large half-moons on fingernails mean an overactive thyroid gland along with high blood pressure.

Now while all that is well and good, what palmists and ancient Chinese medicine believe about the lunulae, unfortunately, cannot be backed up by facts and proofs. Luckily, scientific research has been carried out to discover what these half-moon like formations mean. So let’s explore that front.

What Science Has To Say About The Lunulae

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Medical experts and scientists have extensively studied these whitish formations on fingernails and have come up with quite a few conclusive results:

  • Most medical experts are of the opinion that having a total of 8 to 10 lunulae on both hands combined, i.e. almost one on each finger is a good sign. This means that you are completely healthy and not suffering from any health problems. In fact, the whiter your lunulae gets means the healthier you are.
  • According to one particular study, having small or almost no moon is trouble, to put it bluntly (1). This study shows that missing half-moons are a strong indicator of systemic disorders that mostly affect your pituitary or thyroid gland, lead to an iron deficiency and can even cause chronic renal failure. They can also mean you lack in vitamin B-12, which might be the reason why you always feel low on energy. You should get your vitamin B-12 and iodine levels checked to be sure. Furthermore, small lunulae can also mean compromised immunity.
  • Missing moons are quite the bad sign when it comes to your wellbeing. And another study has proven that there’s an association between missing half-moons and depression (2). To find out how the absence of the lunulae affects individuals, the researchers of the study had collected fingernail samples of 322 outpatients of depression (between 19 and 67 years of age). They compared their collected samples to those from 367 healthy individuals (from the same age group) and found out that those with less than 4 lunulae on both hands combined were more likely to suffer from depression.

Other Interesting Facts About The Lunulae

As you can see now, the lunulae are actually a very important barometer of your overall wellbeing. That being said there are a couple of other interesting facts that you should know about them. Here’s a rundown:

  • The lunula on your thumb is a mark of your lung and spleen function. In fact, this particular lunula, the one on your thumb, is also the largest. However, it shouldn’t be very large in size either. The right size would be 25% of your entire thumbnail. Smokers can have it in smaller sizes though.
  • The lunula on the index finger can disappear entirely or gradually decrease in size if you are suffering from pancreatic or intestinal problems as well as other chronic diseases.
  • The lunula on your middle finger is like the litmus test of your cardiac as well as brain function. If the lunula is absent from this finger, chances are you may be suffering from high blood pressure or other vascular conditions.

All in all, the lunula is one of the best yardsticks of your health. So you should keep checking it from time to time and should take any changes you witness in its shape or color seriously.

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