White spots on nails, also known as leukonychia, are a common and generally harmless condition. These pearly-white or milky marks can appear on toenails or fingernails; there’s usually no need to worry too much. Nonetheless, knowing what causes this issue and the possible remedies can help you keep your nails healthy and tackle any underlying problems.
Causes of White Spots on Nails
- Injury or Trauma: One of the most common reasons for white spots on nails is minor trauma or damage to the nail matrix, which is the base of the nail. Bumping your nails against hard surfaces, such as shutting your fingers in a door or hitting your nails against a counter or desk, your nails can cause these spots to appear due to damage to the nail plate.
- Manicures: Frequent manicures can cause white spots on nails due to pressure that damages the nail beds or matrix.
- Fungal Infections: Fungal infections, such as onychomycosis, can lead to white spots on nails. If a fungal infection is the culprit, you may notice other symptoms like thickening, discoloration, or a change in the nail’s shape.
- Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions to nail products, such as nail polish, nail hardeners, or nail glue, can manifest as white spots on nails. These reactions can occur when you’re sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients in these products.
- Mineral Deficiencies: Deficiencies in essential minerals, particularly zinc and calcium, can result in white spots on nails. A balanced diet that includes these nutrients is crucial for maintaining healthy nails. (8 Benefits of Zinc for the Body and Its Food Sources)
- Nail Trauma from Gel or Acrylic Nails: The application or removal of artificial nails, such as gel or acrylic nails, can damage the natural nails and result in white spots. This type of trauma can be avoided with proper nail care.
- Medical Conditions: In some instances, white spots on nails may be associated with underlying medical conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, or thyroid disorders. These conditions can affect nail health and appearance.
- Medications: Some medications can cause changes in nail color and texture as a side effect. White spots may develop while taking certain drugs, although this is relatively rare.
- Genetic Factors: In some cases, genetics may play a role in the development of white spots on nails. If other family members have experienced similar nail issues, it could be due to inherited factors.
How to Get Rid of White Spots on Nails?
Wait for Nail Growth
If you have white spots on your nails due to minor trauma or injury to the nail matrix, the best approach is to be patient. As your nails grow, the white spots will gradually move towards the tips and eventually disappear.
Nail Strengthening Treatments
Using nail strengthening products and treatments like biotin supplements or nail hardeners can improve nail health and reduce white spots.
Practice Good Nail Hygiene
- Avoid excessive manicuring or using abrasive nail tools that could further damage your nails.
- Keep your nails clean and dry, as moisture can encourage fungal growth. Dry your nails thoroughly after exposure to water.
Use a Protective Base Coat
Before applying colored nail polish, it’s important to use a protective base coat to act as a barrier and prevent damage to your nails.
Treat Underlying Causes
- Consult a dermatologist for fungal infections. They can prescribe antifungal medications or recommend over-the-counter treatments.
- If you have white spots due to mineral deficiencies, you can improve your diet by eating foods that are rich in zinc and calcium. You may also want to consider taking supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Protect Nails During Activities
If you often do activities that may damage your nails, such as sports or gardening, wearing protective gloves is a good idea to decrease the chances of getting nail injuries.
Avoid Overexposure to Water and Chemicals
Prolonged exposure to water and harsh chemicals can weaken nails and cause white spots. Wear gloves when doing household chores or using cleaning products to prevent this.
Maintain Overall Health
A diet rich in essential nutrients promotes healthy nails. Staying hydrated and getting enough vitamins and minerals is important.
Consult a Healthcare Professional
If white spots persist, recur, or are accompanied by other concerning symptoms like changes in nail texture or shape, consult a healthcare professional. They can help identify any underlying medical conditions and recommend appropriate treatment.
Are white spots on nails a sign of a serious health problem?
Typically, white spots on nails are harmless and do not suggest any severe health problems. These spots usually occur due to minor injuries or external factors. But, if you experience persistent white spots and other worrisome symptoms, it is best to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation.
Are there any home remedies for getting rid of white spots on nails?
Many people have attempted various home remedies to eliminate white spots on nails, but the outcomes may not be the same for everyone. It’s essential to remember that scientific proof for these remedies is limited, and they may not be effective for all.
Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is known for its antifungal properties. Applying diluted tea tree oil to the affected nails may help if a fungal infection is causing the white spots. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil and apply it to the nails.
Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is acidic and has natural bleaching properties. You can apply fresh lemon juice to your nails and leave it on for about 10-15 minutes before rinsing. Some people believe this can help reduce the appearance of white spots.
Coconut Oil: Applying coconut oil to your nails and cuticles can help keep them moisturized and healthy. Some people find that regular use of coconut oil can improve the appearance of white spots over time.
Probiotics: Some people have reported improvements in their nail health by taking probiotic supplements or consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kimchi. Probiotics can support overall immune function, which may help with nail health.
Dietary Changes: Ensure you’re getting enough essential nutrients in your diet, especially zinc and calcium, as deficiencies in these minerals can contribute to white spots. Consider incorporating foods like dairy products, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds into your diet.
In conclusion, white spots on nails are a frequent and usually harmless occurrence. These white marks can be caused by minor trauma, fungal infections, allergies to nail products, mineral deficiencies, or underlying medical conditions. While most white spots on nails will naturally grow out as the nails themselves grow, it is important to pay attention to your nail health and take appropriate measures when necessary.
To prevent white spots and promote overall nail health, it is essential to maintain good nail hygiene, be cautious with nail products, and follow a well-balanced diet. However, if you have persistent or recurring white spots, especially if they are accompanied by other symptoms or changes in your nails’ texture or shape, it is equally important to seek professional advice.