Everything You Need to Know about White Spots on Toenails
Did you just remove your nail polish and were horrified at the sight of something white on your toenail? You must be wondering what has happened to my nail? Was it because of the nail polish?
Well, no need to wonder anymore! This is a case of Leukonychia, a condition where white lines or spots suddenly start to appear on the nails of the fingers and toes. Today, we are going to analyze this medical condition in full detail. So, let’s get right into it!
What is Leukonychia?
Leukonychia is a complex medical term for white spots on the nails. It is made of two Greek words, leuko (meaning white) and nychia (meaning nails). It is the appearance of a milk coloured spot on any nail of your foot or hand. Those white marks on the toenails don’t come from anywhere, but is rather the discoloration of the nail. And before you start to panic, let me inform you that it is harmless and does not indicate any big disease or medical condition. It happens to every adult and child, and does not hurt at all. But why does it happen?
Let’s look at the causes to answer that question!
What Causes White Spots on Toenails?
Why is my toenail white? Below are some of the most common causes for milky spots on toenails:
- The most frequent cause of white spots is an injury to the base of the nail. That base is called the matrix, and is where the nail starts to grow. You can see it on your finger at the bottom of your nail. It is not instantaneous though, as the white spots appear when the nail grows, and can take up to 3 to 4 weeks to show up.
- Another common cause is the use of nail polishes and hardeners your nails are allergic to. Applying acrylic and artificial nails can also bring harm to your toenails and cause the white spots to appear. Hardeners can also trigger a reverse reaction and cause the toenail to become hard and tough, along with the appearance of the white milky spots.
- Fungi can also infect your toenails and cause milky spots to rise up. A nail fungus called superficial white onychomycosis can infect the tip of the toe, and can grow to reach the base of the nail. As it covers the whole toenail in the process, they become thick, hard and flakey.
- The second most common cause of Leukonychia after nail injury is the deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals. Most doctors tell the patient that he/she is deficient of minerals, and point out to zinc and calcium as the main triggers.
- Other causes include kidney and renal failure, and various chemical poisonings, including lead and arsenic, but they are very rare as other symptoms also come forward along with them which are much more noticeable than mere spots.
How to Identify White Marks on Toe Nails
The next and bigger question is, how to know that it is REALLY the case of Leukonychia you are having? It’s very simple, and by checking the symptoms written below on your own self, you can easily find out whether you have it or not.
Get yourself acquainted of white spots you are having on your nails and assess their condition from the ones listed below:
Leukonychia Totalis: If your toenails are completely white, this one is your condition. It is caused by genetic diseases, kidney or liver failure etc.
Leukonychia Partialis: If you have various small dots of different sizes, this is the name of your condition. It is further divided to 2 variations:
- Leukonychia Straita: If long transverse white spots appear on your nail, it is the case of straita. It is caused by nail injuries, or poisoning.
- Leukonychia Punctata: It is the most common variation, with white circular spots appearing on the nails. It is caused by nail biting or trauma.
Check the quality of the nail. If it is brittle, it is a case of fungal infection, and if it is soft, it is just mineral deficiency. If it is neither of them and is normal, it is Leukonychia.
How to Treat White Spots on Toe Nails
There is generally no treatment for Leukonychia, as it will go away itself as the nail continues to grow and you continue to cut it. You don’t need to see a doctor. And to add to your information, it will take about 2 to 3 months for it to disappear, and can vary according to your age and healing ability.
However, if they become worse and more and more appear after a certain amount of time, a visit to the doctor is your best bet. The doctor will conduct a full analysis of your nails and the skin surrounding the finger or toe. After they observe it, they will prescribe some medication to cure the disease if they found any.
If the case is complicated and the doctors cannot just conclude by seeing, they will give you some tests, ranging from mineral deficiency to liver and kidney tests. This will allow them to be surer of their analysis and can get further proof of their observation.
After the tests, the doctor will give you a prescription, and you should take it on time and in the right dosage to get healed as quickly as possible. The treatment will be fast and very effective, so it is generally advised to visit a doctor as opposed to home treatment, as wrong medications can worsen the conditions.
Home Treatments for Toenails Turning White
If you believe that you know the condition of the milky spots on your toenails and can treat them on your own, Keep reading, this section is for you. The treatment differs for every symptom, so read the ones below and take the treatment for the one which matches the one you diagnosed.
BEWARE! If you don’t know the condition, DO NOT try the treatment at home, you should go to the doctor and get a full check-up before trying.
- The first treatment is for allergic reactions we discussed earlier. It is pretty simple, and involves stopping the use of the polishes and nail products you think are the ones causing the reaction. If the spots continue to grow even after you left them, consult the doctor immediately, it may be a different condition.
- The second is for injuries sustained by the affected foot. This one is very easy to do. Just let it go! As the nail will continue to grow, it will carry the white spot with it higher and higher, and then a time will come that you’ll cut it along with the excess nail tips!
- The third treatment is for fungi if your toenail is infected. Oral anti fungal treatment is the best for this case, and should be taken for three to four months in a continuous cycle. If not, the infection may not fully heal.
- This one is not a treatment, but should be done if the white stuff on your toenail is really bothering you. You should use skin nail polish to hide the discoloration. It is a good way to temporarily cover up the spots. You can also use colored nail polishes, but the general idea is to hide the spot.
Prevention from Leukonychia
After it the white spots are gone and you are free again, you need to take care of the nails in the future lest Leukonychia strikes again and sticks on your toenail with that dirty spot of his. Try to follow the steps written below, if you’re wondering what to do:
- Think when you hurt your nails, and try not to do that again. For example, if you are a fan of football, often you’ll hurt your toenail, so use thick shoes and the least exposure to the ball to protect your nails.
- Be sure to note the symptoms. If they occur again, take medication beforehand so that it can be healed before the disease or fungus spread across the nail.
- Have frequent appointments to the doctor. This will allow you to be up to date about all that’s going on in your body, and especially in your toenails. If Leukonychia comes again, the doctor will diagnose it before the condition gets worse.
- Increase mineral and vitamin intake. Eat a diet that contains all that the body requires to prevent things like white spots in the future.
White spots on toenails are not a big deal if you neglect them, as they rarely evolve into a bigger problem. If you are anxious and the spots are bothering you, you can schedule a visit to the doctor to get some peace of mind. Always remember, take care of your body to your absolute limit, as you can never get a replacement again.