White Spots on Nails: Causes, Treatments and Prevention
It’s not uncommon to see people have white spots on their nails. What are these white spots and why do they appear? White spots on nails refer to a condition also called Leukonychia, milk spots or white nails. This is the medical term for white discoloration that can be seen on the nails.
White spots can be experienced on fingernails or toenails. These are the common causes for white spots on toenails and fingernails:
If there’s been an injury to the nails, white dot scan develop. If the nail has been bent or banged or incorrectly clipped, white spots can develop. There are times when these spots appear a while after an injury, making it difficult to determine its cause.
White spots also appear if the nail is infected with yeast, fungus or mold. White spots on toenails are caused due to infection, develop at the tip of the nail or near the cuticle. As the spots grow out, the nail could split or flake.
White spots could also develop due to the nail reacting to an allergy to a product used, such as nail polish, polish remover or nail hardener. These spots don’t occur immediately, but after using these products for a long period. By stopping use of such products, the white spots will automatically stop appearing.
If one suffers from vitamin and zinc deficiencies, it can result in white toenails. In fact, women who are deficient in calcium also display white spots on their nails. In cases of vitamin, calcium and zinc deficiency, white spots are also accompanied by other symptoms, such as dry and brittle hair.
A shortfall in zinc also leads to white spots on the nails. Zinc usually boosts immunity, so if one has white spots on the nails or falling hair, it can be remedied by taking a zinc supplement.
Serious infectious diseases:
When one is diagnosed with malaria or herpes, it can lead to the formation of white spots on the nails or white marks. Even a bacterial infection can cause white spots to appear on the nails.
Fungi present in the air or soil are some of the commonest reasons for white spots developing on nails. This is evident in the nails of those who always wear nail polish. With prolonged use of nail polish, white spots develop because insufficient oxygen reaches the nail, thereby encouraging the development of nail fungus. Another cause of fungal infection is sweaty feet.
Fungi that can affect the nails are of three kinds:
mold, yeast and dermatophyte. As the white spots enlarge, the affected toenail can either grow thinner or thicker and change color. The nail may also weaken and split.
Wearing closed tight shoes:
Again, due to insufficient amount of air reaching the shoes, causes fungus to proliferate in the nails when tight shoes are worn for long periods. When fungus reaches below the nail and grows there, it leads to white spots developing.
If the white spots that appear on the nails are rare and not due to any known reason, treatment may not be required. As the nail grows out, the spots will disappear naturally. After this, the damaged part of the nail can be clipped.
Antifungal nail polish:
If white spots are due to fungi, the answer to this is to use antifungal nail polish over the affected parts once a day. Each layer adds on a protective layer till the seventh day when these layers will be removed by soaking a cotton ball in alcohol and rubbing it over the damaged areas.
If after two weeks, there is no improvement in the spots, it’s best to speak to a dermatologist. Prescription drugs such as Diflucan or Lamisil can be taken under doctor’s supervision for a prolonged period, particularly if white spots are due to fungal infection.
Preventing white spots on nails:
- Eat a nutritious diet of vegetables and fruit, calcium- and zinc-rich foods that will help your nails remain healthy. If your diet cannot include all these food types, take multivitamins regularly.
- Use creams or moisturizers to keep your nails and skin well-oiled, especially after tasks that could dry them.
- Keep your nails clean and at a proper length so that they are not subject to trauma or infection. Cut toenails once a week, in horizontal direction.
- Spots on the nails are generally due to stress, infection or disease, medical attention is required. Doctor’s medication will help ease symptoms of white spots and prevent its reappearance.
- Don’t use a metal nail file, but use nail clippers to cut nails and file them from the outside in one direction.
- Wear comfortable footwear and change socks daily.
- The feet should always be kept dry. An antifungal foot powder can also be used.
- Let your white spots on fingernails grow out.
Now that the reasons and treatment methods of white spots are clear, it’s that much easier to take care of one’s finger and toenails. A little regular care will go a long way.