What Causes the White Spots on Your Toenails?

Finding white spots on your toenails is a common experience. The discoloration, which may be white or slightly yellowish, often appears at the cuticle which is found at the base of the nail. These white spots slowly move outward as the nail grows.

They may appear as very small semicircular discolorations and these often indicate injury to the matrix of the nail, which is the part under the nail where new nail cells are produced. Anything that causes injury to the nail matrix, such as pressure from wearing very tight shoes, can cause whites spots to appear on the nails.

Causes of White Spots on Toenails

  1. Fungi. The most common factor that can cause white spots on the nails is fungi, which can come from the air and soil. People who cover their nails with polish all the time may later see white spots because a lack of oxygen to the toenail encourages the growth of nail fungus. Sweaty feet also provide a good medium of fungal infection.
  2. Wearing closed tight shoes most of the time can also deprive the nails of air, thus encouraging the proliferation of fungus in the nails. When these microbes get under the nail and grow, white spots begin to appear. Generally, there are three types of fungi that can affect the nails, including yeast, mold, and dermatophyte. Fungal infection of the nail often appears near the tip of the nail rather than near the cuticle. As the white spots grow bigger the toenail can become either thinner or thicker and may change in color. The nail also becomes weaker and may tend to split or flake.
  3. Nutritional factors such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies can cause white spots to appear on the fingernails and toenails. Many women lack calcium in their diet, and this does not only result in weak bones; it can also be manifested by having white spots on toenails as well as fingernails.

A deficiency in zinc results in a similar situation. Zinc is an important mineral involved in boosting the immune system, and one who experiences frequent infections accompanied by falling hair and white spots on the nails may need to add a zinc supplement to their diet.

 4. Injury. Anything that causes injury to the toenail can cause white spots to appear on the nail a few days or even weeks after the injury. This may also be due to fungus entering the nail after the initial injury.

 5. Allergic reaction. The appearance of whites on the toenails can be an allergic reaction to a product such as nail polish, a polish remover or a nail hardener. The spots may not appear immediately, but only after using the products repeatedly or for a long time. This is not a cause for alarm, because discontinuation of use of the product may lead the white spots to disappear.

 6. Diseases. Although most of the causes of white spots on nails are not serious, some diseases can manifest as nail discolorations, such as certain heart, kidney or liver disease.

How to Get Rid of White Spots on Toenails

White nail discolorations are often harmless or not a threat to health, but they may be unattractive or embarrassing. Some white spots go away on their own, especially when people take better care of their feet.

One can obtain some traditional home remedies or natural healing products over-the-counter to treat the condition. These may consist of topical or oral medications which can be used without a doctor's prescription. However, it is best to consult a health care professional to find out what is causing the problem.

Home remedies

Medical treatments

Prevention of White Spots on Toenails

Here are some tips on how to avoid it:

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