Chances are, there’s been a time in your life when you’ve noticed a white spot on your fingernail or toenail. Nosy friends and family members will tell you white spots on nails are due to a calcium deficiency or some other lack of vitamin or mineral. But we’re here to set the record straight: White spots and streaks on the nails do not stem from calcium and zinc deficiencies. Rather, they are more often than not caused by minor injuries to the base of your nails.
Toenail and Fingernail Health: What Causes White Spots On Nails
Most white spots on your nails are due to a condition called leukonychia. The spots typically appear a short time after you crush, smash or hit the matrix (base) of your nail, near your cuticle. The dot-inducing injury is usually so minor, that you don’t even notice or remember it happening.
There isn’t an effective treatment to remove the white spots (which appear more often on fingernails than on toenails), but luckily, the National Health Service (NHS) of England says leukonychia spots are completely harmless. Be patient, as the marks should grow out as the nail grows and be gone within weeks to months, depending on how quickly your nails grow.
Other Causes Of White Spots On Nails
Leukonychia generally affects healthy people with no nutrional deficiencies or other health problems. However, in rare cases, a dietary deficiency can cause the condition — which is probably where the calcium deficiency rumor came from. If you continue to see white spots on your nails over a long period of time, you should consider visiting a doctor to rule out any nutritional issues.
In other cases, having white spots on your nails could signify onychomycosis (a fungal infection of the nail), alopecia (an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss and nail problems), paronychia (an inflammatory infection around the edge of the nail) or Muehrcke, Beau or Mees' nails (horizontal white lines on the nail that could signify an underlying medical condition). All of the above conditions can cause white lines or dots to appear on the nails, so if you suspect you are suffering from one of the ailments, be sure to visit your health care provider.