White Spots on Nails: What Are They and Why Do They Occur?

Let me ask you a simple question. Do you know what those white spots on your nails are? Why they occur? Or are you completely baffled by why you get them? Well, you’re not the only one. Most people are told that they don’t take enough calcium, and that’s why white spots on nails appear. Now, that’s only partly true. Turns out, even if you drink a glass of milk every day, these spots might appear. There are many more explanations, and I’m going to break them down for you.

Now, before we start, I must state the obvious. The hands are like a business card—they tell almost everything about a person. And if you’re a doctor, you can tell almost everything about a person just by checking his hands and the state they are in.

Both physical and chemical factors can cause white spots on nails. But let’s discuss the first question: what are those white spots on your nails?

What is leukonychia?

The white spots that appear on your nails actually have a medical term: leukonychia. The term is used to describe small, semicircular-shaped spots on the nails. They can appear on the toenails as well (classified as “jogger’s nails”).

White spots on nails can grow out on their own, and in most cases, they don’t require any special action or treatment. If they are a sign of a vitamin or mineral deficiency, you need to replenish those missing ingredients.

Causes of white spots on nails

As I mentioned previously, there are different causes; they are not just a calcium deficiency. They can result from a physical or chemical nature. Here are some.

Mechanical injury

If the matrix of your nails has suffered mechanical damage (while jogging, for example), it will result in white spots. Another mechanical injury is when you put too much pressure on the nail during a manicure. Yes, you can actually hurt your nails while manicuring them. The injury happens few weeks before the white spots appear, which is why it is hard to connect the dots. If the cause is a mechanical injury, the white spots grow out on their own.

Allergic reaction

Speaking of manicures, you might get white spots on nails as an allergic reaction. Some of us are allergic to certain nail polishes and nail hardeners. They all contain chemicals that can damage the fingernails. It’s just that some of us are allergic and prone to injuries, while some are not. Sometimes, even a product you’ve been using for several years can cause an allergic reaction.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to alternate between the cosmetic brands you use. Also, leave your nails polish-free every now and then. But if you can’t live without nail polish and its colors, just use a colored nail conditioner.

Fungal infection

Usually, a fungal infection is associated with the toenails. However, it can occur on your fingernails as well. Fungus thrives in a warm and moist environment, which is a reason why it rarely happens on the fingernails. Don’t panic. There are many anti-fungal remedies, and I’ll share some of them with you later on.

Zinc deficiency

We are moving towards the deficiency area. People often associate white spots with a calcium deficiency. However, when you have low amounts of zinc, these spots appear as well. Zinc is responsible for the health of your nails, among other things. When you notice white spots, try to consume many foods rich in zinc, and you’ll notice the spots disappear. Some of the foods you can consume are spinach, whole grains, yogurt, oysters, and nuts.

Protein deficiency

Protein is highly important for the health of your nails. You might think that protein is good only for your muscles, but protein is actually a building block for almost everything in your body. Vegetarians have problems consuming enough protein, considering the fact that meat is the best source of it. Tofu, beans, nuts, and seeds are your vegetarian choices. If you eat meat, however, go for turkey breasts and fish.

Calcium deficiency

Last, but not least, we are getting to the biggest cause of white spots on nails: a calcium deficiency. And that’s why manicure products contain small amounts of calcium. However, these manicure products are not enough to replenish the vital mineral in your body. Consider some calcium supplements, or just increase your consumption of cheese, sardines, soy products, yogurt, and milk.

Other causes

Sometimes, those white marks might be a sign of a serious disease, such as renal or kidney failure, pneumonia, heart disease, psoriasis, eczema, or arsenic poisoning. Now, these are all rare situations, but you might want to check with your doctor if the white marks don’t disappear after three to four days.

Treatments for white spots

I noted that white marks can disappear on their own. However, if you want to speed up the process, there are a few things you can do. Treatments depend on the cause, but some are generally effective.

  • Moisture is a great way to support fast regeneration of your nails, especially if you rub them with vitamin E hand lotion. Do it before going to bed and after you wash your hands.
  • As I mentioned a few times, changes in the diet also support healthy nail growth and regeneration. All foods rich in protein, zinc, and calcium are welcomed. But you should also consume more vitamin C to boost your immunity.
  • When the cause is a mechanical injury, you just have to let the nails grow, and you will get rid of the white marks.
  • Tea tree oil is another essential oil that supports nail growth and regeneration. This oil will nourish and hydrate your nails, but make sure to mix it with a carrier oil or water before applying.
  • Orange oil has similar properties, but it is also rich in vitamin C. And you don’t have to dilute in carrier oil before applying.
  • Last, but not least, white vinegar is known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Soak your nails in a solution of vinegar and water to remove white marks. Make sure that the solution is in a 1:2 ratio, with more water than vinegar.

Other nail abnormalities

White marks are not the only abnormality you might notice on your nails. There are many others, and a fungal nail infection or thyroid malfunction can be the cause. Here are some other nail abnormalities.

  • Brittle or crumbly nails as a result of water and chemical exposure.
  • Discolored nails as a result of nail psoriasis or fungal infection.
  • Green-black nails caused by overgrowth of bacteria.
  • Half white, half brown nails as a sign of kidney failure.

White Spots on Nails: What Are They and Why Do They Occur?

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