What is Leukonychia?
When you look at your hands or feet, have you ever noticed white spots on your nails? Did you know that these white spots could actually be a sign of injury or poor health?
Leukonychia are small, semicircular white spots that can appear on fingernails and toenails. They are sometimes referred to as “jogger’s nails,” as they’re common on the toenails of joggers and other athletes. These white marks on the nail are often caused by damage to the base of the nail, although they can also be due to certain health problems in your body.
White marks on nails, fingernails, and toenails aren’t a problem in themselves, but they are usually a sign of other things going on in your body that could cause more serious
What Causes White Spots on Nails?
If you do notice that you have white spots on your nails, you may be wondering what they mean.
Almost everyone will get white spots on their nails once in a while. They are very common and do not cause any pain or generally have any negative effect on your health. However, if these white spots are occurring more frequently or becoming more noticeable, that could be a sign of either injury or a health problem.
Here are the top causes of leukonychia:
When the base of your nail is injured, then white spots can be the result. There are a number of different ways you can injure your nail. Accidently hitting your nail with a hammer or another heavy object is one obvious way that you can injure your nail. However, even things like frequent manicures and pedicures can cause damage. In other instances, improper footwear can be the culprit. These white marks often occur with joggers, runners, and athletes who wear ill-fitting shoes. While the marks in themselves are not a serious problem, poor-fitting footwear could lead to other more serious injuries.
2) Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
There are a number of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that can lead to white spots on nails. If you’re deficient in vitamin C, zinc, calcium, or even protein, white marks on your nails may be the result. While only the white spots may be visible, you may be suffering from wide-ranging health effects caused by nutrient deficiencies. These could include mood swings, depression, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, muscle spasms, memory loss, and even impotence.
It’s also possible for white marks on your nail to be the result of allergic reactions. In particular, nail polishes can cause these marks to develop, as well as exposure to other chemicals and irritants, such as laundry detergent or cleaning solutions.
4) Fungal infection
If the white spots are accompanied by flaking nails, pain, or nail splitting, that’s a good sign that a fungal infection may be the cause of the problem. Fungal infections in the nail can cause a wide range of irritating and annoying symptoms. They can also become much more serious when left untreated.
5) Diseases and serious medical conditions
While usually white marks on the nail are the result of one of the previously mentioned causes, they can also be due to a number of different health conditions and diseases, such as liver disease or anemia. It is always a good idea to have a medical checkup to rule out something potentially life-threatening.
Home Remedies for White Spots on Nails
So how do you get rid of leukonychia? Most of the time, white spots on nails are not a serious problem and can easily be treated at home with natural remedies. Treatment depends on the specific cause:
- If your white spots are due to an injury, from regular jogging or trauma, the easiest thing is to wait for your nails to grow out. As your nails grow, the white spots will eventually move up and be able to be clipped or cut off. This can take several months, but it will effectively end your problem. If you feel that the white spots are due to something like poor-fitting shoes, you will need to buy a pair that fit properly.
- If you have frequent white marks on your nails and you cannot link them to an injury, then waiting for your nails to grow out will not help. The next thing to do is to moisturize your nails. Sometimes, dryness can contribute to white spots. Using a vitamin E lotion, a hand cream, or natural oil, such as argan oil, can help keep your nails moisturized and become less susceptible to damage.
- When the white spots on your nails are due to a vitamin deficiency, they will likely keep occurring and will not respond to moisturizing. In this case, the best way to reduce the white spots is by improving your diet and taking vitamin and mineral supplements that you may be deficient in. By taking the daily recommended amount, you can eliminate white marks on your nails caused by nutrient deficiencies. You can get more calcium in your diet by adding dairy products and drinking milk. Vitamin C is an important nutrient for your body. Many fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, as well as juices, contain high amounts of vitamin C. Minerals like zinc and iron are important as well. Leafy greens (e.g. spinach) and beef are good sources of minerals.
- Another very simple way to avoid getting white spots is by cleaning your nails daily and keeping them trimmed. This will help prevent fungal infections from forming.
When to See a Doctor
Most of the time, white spots on your nails are due to things that can easily be treated at home. However, some of the time, they can be due to serious health conditions. At what point should you see a doctor due to the marks on your nails?
If white spots are increasing or getting worse, that is a sign that you should have a doctor take a look. One white spot is probably not a problem, but if your nails are becoming covered in them, that is abnormal and could be a sign of a serious condition.
It’s also important to keep an eye out for other warning signs with your nails. If your nails change color, become distorted, or begin flaking, you should immediately see a doctor. These can all be signs of disease or infection. As well, any pain in your nails should be checked out by a medical professional.
Everyone has probably had a white spot on their nail at one point in their life. This condition, called leukonychia, is usually not a problem, although it can be a warning sign for more serious conditions. If you do notice you have white spots, making some simple changes to your nail hygiene and diet can help keep your nails nice and healthy. Make sure you are getting all of your vitamins and minerals in a healthy, balanced diet, and clean and trim your nails regularly.
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Sources for Today’s Article:
“Definition of White spots on nails,” MedicineNet.com, August 28, 2013; http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7742.
“White Marks on Nails,” EnikiVillage web site; http://www.enkivillage.com/white-marks-on-nails.html, last accessed December 5, 2015.
“White Spots on Nails,” MDhealth.com; http://www.md-health.com/White-Spots-On-Nails.html, last accessed December 5, 2015.
“White Spots on Nails,” New Health Guide web site; http://www.newhealthguide.org/White-Spots-On-Nails.html, last accessed December 5, 2015.