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Definition of Lunula

Definition: Lunula

Look at the base of your thumbnails. You probably have a crescent-shaped white marking at the end, scientifically known as the lunula. While most people possess this half-moon shape on their thumbs and big toenails, it's less common to have lunulas on your other fingers and toes.

The shape of the lunula varies by person and even by finger. In fact, the whitish color and formation is a result of the process of developing and maturing nail cells. Also, the shape of the lunula determines the eventual shape of the free edge, aka the part of the nail that grows past the finger.

Fun facts about lunulas:

  • The appearance of these crescent shapes often fades as we get older.
  • Lunulas start forming around the 14th week of gestation.
  • Lunulas can often be an indicator of health and well-being.
Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
alwayswallis alwayswallis 7 years
Oh. My. God. I always remembered this word from human phys class in high school because it sounded funny. But I had never heard that they fade as we get older. So I looked down at my nails and... I ONLY HAVE THEM ON MY THUMBS!!! And maybe the hint of a tiny one on my right middle finger. But what does that MEAN? I never realized they were gone. The last time I had checked, they were there!
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
Have them on all my fingers and toes. The ones on my thumb and index fingers really big - almost a quarter of the nail. Whenver I get a manicure done, the lady does not paint over the lunula and it gives an interesting look to the manicure.
Merlin713 Merlin713 7 years
I have them on all fingers and all toes. My thumbs and toes have really big ones...
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
i have them on all of my fingers too!
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
ohhhh gotcha. i misread the post and thought it said that they show up in places other than your nails, not other than your thumb/big toe nails. no wonder i didn't understand!
mek123 mek123 7 years
I have them on all my fingers so I thought that was normal, never noticed on others, now I will have to look. I too am curious, how do they indicate health?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
The picture shows them on the person's thumbs.
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
what do they look like on the skin? a picture would help.
Zivanod Zivanod 7 years
I have them on my thumbs, index fingers, and my middle fingers. I never knew what they were called. And I'm curious. How do they indicate health?
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I actually have them on my thumbs, index fingers, middle fingers, and my right ring finger. I'd never paid attention to whether others only have them on their thumbs. Interesting...
bellaressa bellaressa 7 years
I use to hear all types of wives tales on what these actually were, thanks for the write up.
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