White spots can develop on a nail due to a minor injury or trauma to its base. Such spots generally disappear on their own within a few days. You can find out the possible causes, along with some simple measures that can help treat and manage this condition, in this HealthHearty article.
Leukonychia punctata is the medical term used to refer to the condition, where white spots develop on the nails. It is one of the several types of leukonychia, which is the term used to describe white discoloration of nails. The other types of leukonychia are, leukonychia totalis, leukonychia partialis, and leukonychia striata.
In leukonychia totalis, the entire nail becomes white, while leukonychia partialis is characterized by the whitening of a part of the nail. On the other hand, leukonychia striata is the condition, where white or discolored bands appear on the nails. Leukonychia punctata is the most common form of leukonychia.
What causes the development of white spots on nails is still a mystery. There are several myths that try to explain why such spots develop on the nails. One such myth is that calcium deficiency can cause the development of white nail spots. However, it has been observed that such spots mostly develop due to a minor trauma or injury to the matrix or the base of the nail. This may be the reason why this condition is more common in individuals who have the habit of biting and picking their nails.
However, the spots do not appear immediately after an injury. Rather, they take time to develop, and so, we usually forget about the injury by the time the spots appear. Another supposition is that these spots are caused by trapped air bubbles in the nail plate.
A defect in the process of keratinization (the process by which hair and nails are formed), can be another reason behind getting those white spots. Sometimes, an allergy to nail polish, remover, or nail hardener, as well as a bad or aggressively done manicure can cause white spots on nails. Occasionally, a mild infection, caused by bacteria or nail fungus can also cause the development of such nail spots.
Apart from these, some other possible causes are, a deficiency of zinc (if the spots persist for a long time and appear in several nails) and intake of certain drugs. The spots usually disappear on their own within a couple of days. At the most, they can take eight weeks to disappear or grow out completely.
How to Get Rid of Leukonychia?
If there are only a few white spots on your nails, and they are not very large, then it is better to wait for a while and let them grow out on their own. When they grow past the end of the fingers or the toes, just cut them off. In the meantime, regularly moisturize the fingers and the toes, along with the nails. You can use vitamin E oil to nourish and moisturize the nails, as well as the skin around the nails.
Try to avoid aggressive manicures, and cutting or pushing the cuticles too harshly. Instead, try to go slow during a manicure, and file your nails gently. At the same time, be sure to follow a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and minerals including zinc, to get rid of these white spots.
The development of a few spots on nails is not a major health problem. However, if the whole nail becomes partially or completely white, then consider to visit a dermatologist. You can also consult a dermatologist, if you observe a large number of white spots on nearly all your finger and toenails for a considerable period of time. This can help find out whether these spots are caused by infections, nutritional deficiency, or minor injuries.