White spots on toenails are common. But what are these white spots and what is the meaning of having them? Discover the common causes of white spots, marks dots or patches on your toes and explore their signs and symptoms. Furthermore, learn how to get rid, treat and prevent white spots on your toenails, including medical treatment home remedies. We have also availed informative pictures at relevant sections of this page.
Summary of Page Contents
- Signs and Symptoms of White Spots on Toes
- What Causes White Spots on Toenails (Meaning)
- White Spots Under Toenail or on Toenail Bed
- How to Get Rid of White Spots on Toenails
- Prevention of White Spots on Toenails
- Sources and References
Signs and Symptoms of White Spots on Toes
White spots on toenails are very common. These white spots take various shapes, and appearance. Also, they are of various sizes. Some of the common appearances and sizes of white spots on toenails include:
- Tiny dots on the toenails
- Big individual dots on the toenails
- Large lines across the toenails
- A huge center white spot
- Several dots all over the nails
The actual appearance of the white spots on toenails depends on the causes. For example, an injury might cause a huge central white patch on your toenails. On the other hand, an infection or allergic reaction is likely to cause several white spots that spread all over the nail
What Causes White Spots on Toenails (Meaning)
When you have white spots on toenails, it means that there is a health problem on the toenails or your body. There are many different causes of white spots on nails. These different causes result in different appearances of the white spots. Some of the common causes of white spots on nails include:
1. Nutrient Deficiency
White spots on toenails may be as a result of deficiencies in certain essential minerals and vitamins. Generally, lack of these nutrients leads to low immunity and poor structure of the toenails. This causes various problems in toenails including the formation of white spots on the nails. The common nutritional deficiency linked to white spots on toenails include:
- Zinc deficiency: White spots on toenails is one of the signs and symptoms of zinc deficiency. The other common signs of zinc deficiency is falling hair and skin problems. Zinc is an essential mineral in the body that helps maintain strong immunity in your body. Luck of this vital mineral, therefore, makes you susceptible to ailments that may lead to white spots on toenails.
- Calcium deficiency: Calcium mineral is fundamental for bone and teeth development and health. However, calcium is also essential for the development and maintenance of strong nails. The inadequacy of this mineral may lead unhealthy weak and brittle nails. Such nails will also be susceptible to injury and infections that may lead to the formation of white spots on them.
- Iron Deficiency: Deficiency in iron can be connected with white spots on toenails. Iron deficiency leads to nutrient circulation problems and this may result in brittle toenails with white spots.
- Vitamin E deficiency: Vitamin E helps keep the immune system strong against viral, fungal and bacterial infections. It can also prevent cancer, heart disease and liver disease. Inadequate vitamin E hence can lead to this infections and diseases which are known to cause white spots on nails.
2. Fungal Infections
Fungal infections are also common causes of white spots on toenails. Nail discoloration caused by fungal infections usually gets larger and may even spread to other toenails. In some cases, your toenails may develop multiple colors besides the white spots. The other common shades that may develop on your toenails include brown and yellow.
Superficial onychomycosis or toenail fungus is a very common example of fungal infections that may occur on your toenails. The first sign of this infection is the formation of some white spots on the toenail. Normally, the infection then spreads the nail bed causing the nail to become thick and brittle and flakey.
When toenail fungus or toenail bacteria that causes white spots on toenails is commonly referred to as white nail disease. The risk factors for contracting fungal infections on your nails include:
- Walking barefoot: This might subject your feet to soil and other conditions which may cause infections on your toenails
- Nail polish: when you cover your nails with polish, there might be inadequate air in the nail which may encourage the development of fungal infections.
- Sweaty feet: In case your feet sweat within the shoes frequently, this may create a condition that favors the development of fungal infections on your feet and toenails
- Footwear sharing: In case you share footwear within an infected person, your toenails may contract the fungal diseases.
Get more information about toenail fungus, including causes, pictures and how to get rid of it with treatments and home remedies.
3. Injury on Toenail
An injury on the toenail, especially at the base of the nail, can result in the formation of white spots on the toenail. It might be possible that you sustained an injury that led to the white spots but you cannot remember the injury. This is because it might take quite some time for the white spots to appear due to the slow growth of nails. It might take even up to one month for the white spots to show up.
The common toenail injuries that may cause white spots are as a result of being hit or strongly pressed or pinched on the nail or at the base of the nail. These commonly occur when you accidentally:
- trap your foot with a door as you shut it
- strike your toes with a mallet or hammer
- ram your toes on an object such as a piece of furniture
- fall and hit your foot on an object
- place a heavy object you are carrying over your toes
You may also suffer injuries during a cosmetic procedure on your toenails. This may happen if your service provider applies too much pressure to your nails. This might damage the nail bed or nail base leading to the formation of white spots afterward.
Usually, white spots on toenails disappear on their own when the injuries heal. More commonly, the white spots grow out of the nail bed and hence get eliminated.
4. Allergic Reactions
White spots on toenails may form as a reaction to various allergies. Certain products used for cosmetic purposes are common causes of allergic reactions leading to the formation of white spots on toenails.
The products that may cause allergic reactions on your toenails include nail polishes, nail polish removers and nail herders. Apparently, frequent variations of the brands of this products increase the probability of the occurrence of such reactions.
It is not uncommon for you to get white chalky toenails from nail polish or after pedicure. The likely reason here is allergic reactions as a result of the products used in the procedures. Therefore, you may see white spots on your toenails after removing polish.
According to reports, the spots on the nails may appear shortly after use or after a long period of use of these products. Also, the allergic reactions usually affect particular individuals in different ways. Apparently, some individuals are not affected by such allergic reactions at all.
5. Improper Footwear
Wearing closed tight shoes may exert undue pressure and friction on some parts of the foot, including toenails. This may cause injuries on your feet including on the toenails. In turn, this may lead to the development of white spots on the toenails.
Also, too tight-fitting shoes may cause sweating of your feet and inadequate air in the shoes. Apparently, these are ideal conditions for the development and spread of fungal infection on foot. As we have already seen, fungal diseases can cause white spots on toenails.
6. Underlying Diseases
Although white spots on toenails are not usually symptoms of serious health issues, occasionally, they may cause concern. This is when they are symptoms of serious diseases and complications. Such conditions and diseases include:
- Liver disease
- Kidney Disease
- Heart Disease
- arsenic poisoning
However, these conditions and diseases are rare causes of white spots on toenails. Nevertheless, in case you have persistent or recurrent white spots on your toenails, visit your doctor. The doctor will carry out several tests to confirm or rule out any of these serious potential causes of white spots on toenails.
In case there is such a cause, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment and have you treated. Upon recovery from your disease or condition, the white spots on your toenails will slowly disappear.
White Spots Under Toenail or on Toenail Bed
Sometimes, the white spots on your toenails are actually located under the toenail or in the nail bed rather than being integrated into the nail structure. The usual cause of such white spots is fungal infections which infect the nail bed rather than the nail itself.
Normally, it is not easy to tell the actual location of the white spots on toenails. However, it really does not matter where the white spots are exactly located. In any case, the treatment used is the same whether the white spots are integrated within the toenail or are under the toenail.
How to Get Rid of White Spots on Toenails
Various approaches are used to get rid of white spots on nails. They include both medical treatments and home remedies. However, the bottom line for determining the treatment to be administered is the cause of the white spots.
In case, the cause is an injury, the injury is treated. The cause may also be an infection, which will also be treated. However, if the cause is an underlying health problem, then the problem is treated to get rid of the white spots on your toenail.
We have outlined some of the treatments that can be used to get rid of white spots on toenails. They are classified into medical treatments and home remedies.
Medical Treatment for White Spots on Toenails
1. Fungal Infections
Usually, your doctor will administer an oral antifungal medication for fungal infections. However, the doctor may also prescribe you topical antifungal treatment. However, oral antifungals should be preferred in this particular case. This is due to the fact that it might be difficult to apply the topical antifungal under the nail. Also, the tropical antifungal may not easily penetrate and reach the infected area under the toenail for quick treatment. Hence, the treatment might take longer than expected.
Also, the tropical antifungal may not easily penetrate and reach the infected area under the toenail for quick treatment. Hence, the treatment might take longer than expected.
There are other forms of treatment for fungal toenail infections, including using laser treatment
Whichever medication, the treatment should consistently go on for about three months to cure the infection completely. Otherwise, the disease may not get healed completely and this may cause recurrence of the same problem. Worse still, the infection may develop resistance to the medication in case it is not fully cured in the first instance of treatment
2. Allergic reaction
In case you realize that the white spots are as a result of allergic reactions, stop using the substances that cause these allergies. So, stop using the nail polish, nail gloss or nay other suspected product.
Obviously, it will take some time for you to get positive results. However, if it takes too long without the white spots disappearing, consult your doctor. He will carry out tests to explore the other possible causes of the white spots.
3. Underlying Diseases
In case your doctor diagnoses an underlying health problem that could be the cause of white spot on toenails, have the problem addressed. The doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment for your disease or condition.
The white spots will fade away and disappear after the disease or condition is cured. In the meantime, you can use nail polish to temporarily get rid of the white spots.
Before and after Treatment Pictures
Home Remedies for White Spots on Toenails
There are various home remedies that can help get rid of white spots on toenails. The choice of a particular home remedy depends on the cause of the white spots. The following home remedies can be used if the cause of the white spots on the toenails is a fungal infection.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar a spectrum of medicinal properties. Therefore, it has a wide range of use in treating various health problems. It has antifungal properties that enable it to be used to treat white spots on toenails. For bets results follow the following procedure
- Add a little water to apple cider vinegar in a cup to dilute it
- Submerge a piece of cotton wool into the dilute solution
- Massage the cotton wool into the affected are for about 15 minutes
- Repeat this procedure twice a day for about 3 weeks or until the infection heals.
Tea tree oil
Studies show that tea tree oil is effective in the treatment of many fungal infections. It is even effective in getting rid of Superficial Onychomycosis, which is the common fungal infection that causes white spots on toenails.
- Soak a piece of cotton wool in tea tree oil in a container
- Carefully apply the oil onto the toenail and the surrounding area
- Let the oil dry on the toe
- Repeat this procedure twice a day for about three weeks or until the infection heals
In case of nutrient deficiency, ensure you maintain a balanced diet. If the deficiency is serious, your doctor will prescribe appropriate supplements for your deficiency. Also, learn to always maintain a balanced diet to keep your body generally healthy.
Most of the injuries may not be serious and only need time to heal. The white spots will move up the nail as the nail grows. Eventually, the white spots will be out of the nail bed and you will have a clear nail again. Meantime, you can use nail polish to temporarily get rid of the white spots as you wait for them to disappear.
You can hide the white spots with a nail polish in case the white spots are stubborn without any serious medical problem. Also, use of some nail polish may be a temporary solution to the white spots on your toenails before you seek medical attention.
This is also an excellent way to temporarily get rid of the white spots on your toenails as you wait for them to disappear. In this case, you might have treated the problem but you do not want the white spots to be visible as they heal. Similarly, it might be a simple injury or an allergy that caused the white spots and they need some time to disappear.
Caution: Be careful not to use cosmetic treatment for temporary solutions and forget to treat a possibly serious condition such as heart disease, liver disease and kidney complications
In case your shoes are close fitting, replace them with the right size. To get properly fitting shoes, learn to purchase the shoes later in the day as opposed to very early in the morning. Usually, your legs expand slightly when the temperatures are high and this is the right time to fit and get the right size of your shoes.
In case you just acquired new shoes, start slow. At the beginning, use the shoes for fewer hours per day and increase the duration gradually as time goes by. Eventually, your feet will shape the shoe and stop subjecting your feet to undue pressure. That is when you can use them all day.
However, if your shoes are properly fitting but have extra parts within them that may exert excess pressure on your toenails, have them repaired by a cobbler. There is no need of unnecessary expenditure for new shoes in this case.
Prevention of White Spots on Toenails
- Maintain a healthy diet: Maintain a healthy diet including fruits, vegetables, and calcium and zinc rich foods. In case the nutrients are still inadequate, consider using their supplements with the advice from your doctor.
- Avoid injury: Be cautious when engaging in activities that may cause trauma to your toenails. Wear protective shoes in case there is a likelihood of an object falling on your toes.
- Prevent Infection: You can prevent infections on your toenails. Avoid walking barefoot in suspicious places and sharing footwear. Also, keep your feet sweat free by use of foot powders.
- Keep the toes moisturized: In case your toenails tend to be too dry, moisturize them regularly with appropriate moisturizers and creams. It may also be necessary to use the moisturizers in dry seasons to keep the toenails moist.
- Proper Footwear: Always wear properly fitting footwear to avoid trauma to your toenail. Properly fitting toes will also minimize chances of the development of fungal infections.
- Maintain Cleanliness: Keep your feet and toenails clean. This way, you will prevent fungal infections in your toenails and hence prevent the formation of white spots on them
- Proper cutting of toenails: Use sharp clippers to cut your nail. Also, file your nails from the outer to the inner side. These will prevent ripping the nail from the nail bet hence causing injury to it.
- Keep your feet dry: Moist conditions in shoes create a conducive environment for the development of fungal infections. So, keep your feet dry to avoid the development of this. Remember to always dry your feet properly before wearing shoes. In addition, may use foot powders to keep your feet dry