Having white spots on nails is very common, but have you ever wondered why? Well, these spots develop for multiple reasons and are common to the level that there are hundreds of myths and rumors about them.
In fact, some popular beliefs about white spots on fingernails are far away from reality. That is why we will take a closer look into the cause of these nail spots. We have also looked into the possibility of these spots being indicators of other problems.
So without further ado, let's get a basic outline of what white nail spots or leukonychia is.
What are White Nail Spots?
People often complain about white spots on nails. And there are questions like What are these spots? Do the nail spots mean something?
Well, to begin with, the condition of white spots appearing on the finger and toenails is Leukonychia. In other words, the medical term refers to nail discoloration or nail spots.
The white spots or lines appear due to the separation of keratin layers after an injury or apparent damage. Sometimes, it also indicates some underlying conditions or deficiencies.
Also, the types of leukonychia indicate different things about the body. Therefore, the next section has a brief about the types of leukonychia.
What are the Types of Leukonychia?
Leukonychia is divided into types based on the patterns of the spots or lines on nails. For instance, some people have a condition of white dots covering their nails, while others might notice a line pattern on the nails. So, let's look at the medical terms of these leukonychia patterns.
True leukonychia is the condition in which the white spots on nails are a result of damage or injury. Basically, these spots appear on the nail plate and grow out with the nail. This is one of the common types of nail spots that does not change to a pinkish color with pressure.
Apparent leukonychia occurs when there is an issue with the bed underneath the nails. In this condition, the cause of white spots on fingernails is nail trauma or an underlying inflammatory condition like psoriasis. It does not grow out with the nail, and the discoloration lessens with pressure on the nails.
Leukonychia striata or longitudinal leukonychia is the condition when the nails have white bands running parallel to the nail bed. Also known as Mees' lines, this condition is a result of injury, trauma, or deficiencies.
Leukonychia totalis is mostly hereditary or associated with bigger systemic diseases. For instance, it can be a sign of chemotherapeutic drugs, arsenic poisoning, or Kawasaki disease. This condition results in complete discoloration of the nails.
Now that we have looked into the types of nail spots let's see what causes white spots on fingernails.
Common Causes of White Nail Spots
In most cases, these white marks do not stand for something specific or serious. But on the other hand, they might warn about some underlying health conditions involved. To understand more about leukonychia on what these white spots indicate, we will look into the causes of it. Here are a few of those.
If your nails have white spots, it may be a result of physical injury or trauma. In other words, biting nails or injuries with heavy objects can leave white marks or spots on the nails. For instance, shutting your fingers in a door or getting hurt by your hammer can leave these spots.
It is known as punctate leukonychia in medical terms. The trauma or injury can be physical as well as chemical. That means certain nail polishes or acrylic nail colors can leave behind white spots as they damage the nail plate.
Another reason for white spots or leukonychia can be vitamin deficiencies. White spots on nails, vitamin deficiency?? Confused, well studies show that a deficiency of essential nutrients like calcium, selenium, and zinc in the human body can make the nails look white.
Another explanation for it states that the deficiency of the residential minerals can affect the nail plate composition. As a consequence of the deficiency, the nails become prone to damage and develop these white spots even with the slightest of injuries.
Keratin granulations leave marks on fingernails. The overuse of acrylic nail polishes leaves behind dry patches on the nails resulting in keratin granulation. Dehydration or exposure to chemicals like formaldehyde is also a cause of marks on fingernails.
This kind of discoloration is pseudo-leukonychia. To put it differently, the nail plate gets damaged by external factors or to be specific chemicals in nail polishes such as toluene or formaldehyde.
Poisoning and Drugs
Poisoning with heavy metals like arsenic or lead is also a reason for white spots on nails. In other cases, cancer patients exposed to chemotherapy might also develop marks on the nails.
In totality, heavy medications and metal poisoning can also result in transverse leukonychia. If you develop this condition after consuming harsh medicines, consult your doctor for a check-up to ensure white nail symptoms are not because of metal poisoning or drug reactions.
Nail fungus infections or onychomycosis is a common condition in most people. People develop this condition of fingernails or toenails due to exposure to excessive moisture or allergens. The fungal infections cause white spots on line to appear on the nails and make them brittle.
Medical experts and dermatologists suggest that if you have flaky nails with whitish discoloration followed by yellow skin around the nails, then it might be due to onychomycosis.
Sometimes, white spots on nails indicate underlying health conditions or systemic illnesses. Particularly, leukonychia totalis hints at high levels of albumin (hypoalbuminemia), kidney diseases, or hepatitis.
In other cases, these marks also indicate medical conditions like chronic kidney diseases and liver cirrhosis. If you have persistent leukonychia with other health conditions, you must consult a specialist for a diagnosis of the problem before it increases.
How to Get Rid of White Spots on Nails?
If you have white spots on your nails and want to treat them, then look out for some of the possibilities stated above. Secondly, if the spots are persistent or constantly growing, you must book an appointment with a doctor or a good dermatologist.
The experts can help you understand the underlying condition for white spots on nails with simple tests like mycology or nail biopsy. After diagnosis, make sure to follow the treatment and instructions given by medical experts.
All in all, these white spots on toenails and fingernails are not a big problem but a part of bigger problems that need attention at the earliest possible. So, make sure you do not ignore these spots in the first place and look out for the possible reasons that cause them.
Also Read : Its Nail'O Clock! Different Nail Shapes To Beautify Your Hands
Most people take white spots on nails very lightly and do not consider them a problem. Contrary to this opinion, many experts suggest people make sure that if white spots appear on the nail after injury, they should heal or grow out with the nail.
But in case the spot appears constantly or is persistent, they should consider taking medical advice to understand the underlying health condition. To sum up, white spots or lines on the nails are harmless and common. However, they might be a warning sign that your body needs attention. So, be aware.
Lastly, if you are a fitness, health, and lifestyle enthusiast, check out our blogs on The Voice Of Woman!! We are sure that you will find some interesting topics that you have been looking for.