White Spots on Nails

White Spots on Nails

A white spot on the nail, also called leukonychia, is something most people have to contend with at one point or another in their lives. Some tolerate it gracefully, choosing to ignore it. Others get wound up and become fearful of having maybe contracted some disease with no cure. These spots never seem to be in a hurry to disappear. Some even take more than six months to disappear.  To hide them, manicure and gloves are often employed.

Luckily, permanent is not a word you’ll hear being mentioned in connection with white spots on nails. In most cases the spots not dangerous. Well, that’s because the spots are temporary. All you have to do is give it some weeks, allow the nail to grow out to a point where you can cut out the region with the spot. You do not have to fret for in a few weeks the nails will have taken up their natural color.

Contrary to common belief, white spots on nails are not a key indication of calcium deficiency. So, what are the real causes of these spots?

A bump on the nails

Bumping your nails is the most common cause of white spots on nails. The bump causes injury on the base of nails.  The spots don’t show up at the moment of the knock. Rather, they take as much as five weeks to appear. This is because they are usually hidden in the cuticle. Usually by the time they become visible you cannot even recall you had a knock, leave alone establishing the connection between the spot and the knock. Other similar causes include nail biting and putting on small footwear leading to pressure on toe nails.

Excessive manicure

Excessive manicure usually piles pressure on the base of the nails. This could possibly result to injury on the base of the nails. Again, the spots will take days or weeks to manifest themselves. Sometimes even the force applied on the fingers during application of manicure can injure the matrix of the nails causing the spots.

Allergic reaction

It could be an allergic reaction to the nail polish, polish remover or nail hardener you use that triggers the white spots. For recurrent white spots it is advisable to contact the doctor in order to find out whether it could be as a result of an allergic reaction.

A sign of a disease

Some systemic diseases cause nails to blanch. Usually these diseases do not just cause a few white spots. A huge part if not the entire nail is affected. Liver and kidney diseases can lead to white nails. Sometimes it’s just a fungal nail infection. Other diseases associated with white spots on nails include sickle cell anemia and Hodgkin’s disease, Addison’s disease and pellagra.

Side effect of certain medication

Chemotherapy treatment for cancer and sulfonamides for treating bacterial infections are examples of medication that can lead to white spots on nails.

Deficiency of certain nutrients

Nutrients such as Vitamin A and B6, iron and zinc are pertinent in the growth of the nail. A lack of any of them weakens nails making them more susceptible to damage that might cause white spots.


In the event that you have white spots on your nails, how do you go about treating them? Well, treatment will depend on the cause. Several tests can be taken to ascertain the real cause of them. Mycology or nail biopsy can be carried out by a dermatologist. Blood tests are carried out only if systemic illnesses are a likely cause. Tests are carried out only when there are no obvious causes of the spots. Antifungal treatment can be used in case fungal infection is the cause. However,the white spots themselves cannot be treated.  They have to be left to grow out naturally until they can be cut out or filed off.


Preventive mechanisms such as using nail polish and hardeners moderately, cutting nails short and moisturizing them can help reduce the chances of getting white spots. The nails shouldn’t also be cut too low. Nail-strengthening serum is recommended for those that do nail polishing frequently.  Eating food that contains zinc such as spinach and Vitamin A like carrots frequently is good for the growth of the nails as well.

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