Nails change with time, just like hair and skin. The protein alpha-keratin is what makes nails. It acts as a polymer and protects the skin beneath. Like your hair, which is also made of the same protein, nails can be an extension of your overall health. It’s important that you take care of your nails and keep track of key changes.
White spots are a sign you should slow down, eat well, or stop using fancy gel manicures. What are the signs of a white spot? And when should you see a doctor? Let’s take a look at the expert who will help us to determine what to do and where to go.
What is the meaning of white spots on nails
Paul Jarrod Frank MD, a New York City celebrity cosmetic dermatologist and author of The Pro-Aging Playbook, says that white spots, also known as punctate or striate leukonychia, are defined by the keratin deposits on the nail plate. He also points out that the leukonychia may appear as white lines on the nail (transverse or striate) or across (longitudinal or transverse leukonychia).
What causes white nail spots?
It is not likely to be a calcium shortage, contrary to popular belief. Dr. Frank says white spots on nails are usually a sign that the nail bed has been damaged by trauma or dryness. These white spots can be caused by people who bite their nails or gel manicures that cause damage to the nail beds. It is very rare that it will be due to a deficiency of certain minerals, such as calcium and zinc.
Some white spots may be due to an autosomal genetic condition that is inherited (the condition can also be called Total Congenital Hiseditary Leukonychia). Others can indicate an allergic reaction to acrylic or gel manicure ingredients. These spots will look more like scattered white spots than trauma.
Dr. Frank says that nail fungus can develop whenever nails are exposed to warm or moist environments. Both bacteria and fungus can also enter nails during trimming and clipping, particularly if the instruments are not sterile.
Although they are unlikely, they could be an indicator of more serious conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease, or pneumonia. You should immediately consult your doctor if you suspect that this is the case.
How do you prevent white nail spots?
Dr. Frank recommends keeping nails clear by keeping them hydrated (cuticle oils work wonders), not biting or other harmful behaviors, and taking breaks between manicures. Stick with nail salons that use sterilized instruments. Depending on your allergy, you might also avoid nail glue or polish if you suspect that the spots are caused by an allergy.
How can you remove white nail spots?
Dr. Frank will advise you to allow your nails to grow out if it is trauma. He says, “If it is an allergic reaction, you should avoid the allergen.” You should consult your dermatologist if you suspect it to be a fungus, in which case you might also notice thickening and swollen nails.
To improve your overall nail health, it’s a good idea to eat foods high in vitamins, minerals, or essential fatty acids. This includes eggs, salmon, lean meats, greens, and legumes.
When is it appropriate to seek medical attention?
You don’t need to visit a doctor if your white spots are not frequent and aren’t related to an injury to your nails. If the cause of your white spots is not known and they are becoming more severe, Dr. Frank recommends that you visit a dermatologist to determine if it may be genetic or another condition. He can also prescribe a treatment plan.