Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes Folklore

Appalachia Through My Eyes – White Spots

My life in appalachia - White Spots

Have you ever noticed small white spots on your fingernails? I tried to take a picture of one on Chatter’s finger you can just barely see it. I used to have the small white spots on my nails all the time-but it doesn’t seem like I have them much anymore.

When I was little Granny always told me the number of white spots on my nails = the number of boyfriends I had.

A few other bits of folklore about white spots I’ve heard:

  • white spots = number of lies you have told
  • white spots on fingernails is a sign of anemia
  • white spots = wealth (Me and Chatter disprove that one!)
  • a white spot on the nail of your ring finger means someone is sending you a letter

Got any folklore to add?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    May 29, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Got a chuckle from Bill Burnett’s comment!
    Hadn’t heard these before….fun post.

  • Reply
    May 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Could it mean that you’ve been painting…?

  • Reply
    May 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    You know, Tipper, I hadn’t noticed, but I don’t have white spots on my nails anymore. I guess a woman in her 70s doesn’t need boyfriends.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    These folklore are all new to me.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    I don’t know about Laurie Stone but black spots on my nails means you shouldn’t hold a nail when you are using a hammer and wearing Progressive Tri-focals.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    So it’s a zinc deficiency that causes me to tell lies? And all along I thought the devil made do it.

  • Reply
    Madge @ The View From Right Here
    May 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Never heard any of those, interesting all!

  • Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I used to have them too, but not since I’ve gotten older. Maybe it’s a youth thing? I didn’t get to grow up with any of the fun folklore, I was always told it was due to a zinc deficiency – no fun there!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 26, 2012 at 11:20 am

    When I was a girl I used to worry about those little white spots on my nails…Most of the folklore were the boyfriend or lie thing that I remember….It has been so long…
    I asked about them one time when we were at the doctors…he said mostly due to growing and shortage of a mineral or so…not to worry…soooo,
    I have long since forgot about the nail white spots and on to the liver spots on the back of my hand…age spots…they say…Who are they anyhow!..LOL
    So far mine don’t show much…but my Grandmother and Mother had them but Mom kept putting something on her hands that kept them at bay…..My Grandmother was always ashamed of hers..and would say, “My poor old hands” I wish I would’ve had the knowledge back then to tell her that it was nothing to worry over…Just many years of loving, cooking and care for her family…LOL
    Thanks Tipper,
    This post reminded me of the many little girl talks with friends we had while making clover chains in the summer….

  • Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

    My mother called them ‘sweethearts’-i.e. how many you had.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I just looked at my nails, lots of white spots from banging my fingers gardening, dog grooming, hauling stuff. I hope that is the reason-not any of the folklore!

  • Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I don’t have any now, don’t recon
    but now that you’ve jogged my
    memory, I use to have some. If that meant all girlfriends, gosh
    what would I have done with that
    One time I had two seed warts come
    up on the inside of my “statement”
    finger (where you’d hold a pencil)
    and ’bout died with the flu, but
    when it was over the seed warts
    left too. Ain’t had naryian since!

  • Reply
    Laura Cunningham
    May 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I have heard that it could be calcium deposits. This is great fun to read for me because I have fairly large white spots on several nails and I’ve had them my whole life. I’m not rich, happily married for 13 yrs, and no injuries. Maybe they’ll bring me good luck.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    May 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

    How odd that we never had any folk tales to go with them. My mother just always said they were little bruises to the nail. I’d much rather have had a fun tale to explain it. : )

  • Reply
    Tim Cuthbertson
    May 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Yes, what Shirla said. It is a dietary zinc deficiency. The best foods to get more zinc are oysters, beef, crab, pork and chicken, among many others. Also, supplements are available.

  • Reply
    Laurie Stone
    May 26, 2012 at 10:23 am

    I always heard bumps on your tongue were lies! But white spots on your fingernails are secret admirers. It almost makes you wonder – hmmm – what do those black spots on my nails mean?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I’ve never heard folk lore about those white spots but I did recently read that they ar caused by trauma to the nail.
    I like your ideas about them. The folk lore is far mor interesting and fun than trauma.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnete
    May 26, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I have always heard that the white spots indicates the number of boyfriends that you have. When I was in my teens, I had quite a few of these spots. Then, they all vanished until I hit my 40s and they started showing up again!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    May 26, 2012 at 8:57 am

    No folklore that I remember. I have those spots on my nails from time to time but figure they’re from working outside and beating my hands/fingers up all the time.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 8:54 am

    My daughter had those white spots all the time when she was a teenager. I asked the doctor about it and he said she was lacking something in her diet but, I can’t remember what. It could have been iron or zinc… Before that, I thought the spots were caused by injuries to the nail.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I had heard growing up the white spots were how many secret admirers I had. I heard later in life that they were calcium deposits (excess calcium). But Wikipedia says they are caused from small injuries to the nail as it’s growing.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 26, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I’ve only heard about the boyfriends (girlfriends in my case). So what happens if you lie about the number of boyfriends you have?
    Used to be said that telling lies caused bumps on your tongue. I don’t believe that one because I know people who’s tongues would swoll plumb out of their faces!

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    May 26, 2012 at 8:07 am

    No folklore to add, but I am checking my fingernails very carefully after I send this.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 26, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I’ve only heard about the lies and anemia. Interesting.

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