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What Causes White Dots on Nails?

white dots on nails

Most of us have seen white dots on our nails. These spots are usually in different shapes, sometimes being more like lines than dots. There are all sorts of myths surrounding the white dots and it still isn’t clear exactly what they are. There are some suggestions, but, interestingly enough, none of them have been conclusively proven by the scientific community. At the same time, none of them have been disproven either. This could suggest, therefore, that there is truth in all of them and that it depends on your own lifestyle which cause is applicable to you.

Let’s take a look at some of the ideas around what causes white dots on nails.

Most people who have or see white dots on their nails assume that it is a deficiency of some kind. In fact, if you ask someone “what are white dots on nails?”, they will usually cite one of the following causes:
• Calcium deficiency
• Iron deficiency
• Zinc deficiency

All of these could be possible and you may want to look into your diet to see whether you do consume too little calcium, iron or zinc. It is a trial and error case, because once the white spots appear, it will not disappear until your nail has grown it out. Hence, you need to watch and see whether new spots continue to form.

The next option is that it is a fungal infection. However, there are generally other signs and symptoms associated with fungal infections that lead to white spots on finger nails and white spots on toe nails. Usually, there is a level of discomfort and the spots are either raised or dented. The spots will also change over time, as the fungal infection spreads.

Leukonychia is the most accepted term for white spots in the scientific community. This suggests that there has actually been an injury to the nail, most probably at the base. It often takes a long time for the spots to appear, which is why you don’t notice them immediately after the injury occurs.

A white spot on nails can also occur as an allergic reaction to nail polish, nail hardeners or nail varnish remover. A lot of people who have used acrylic nails notice white spots after the nails are removed. Manicures may feel very nice, but they carry a greater risk of developing allergies and injuries, particularly because they will remove the upper layer of the nail.

Should I Be Worried?
It is very rare for a white dot on nails to be something of concern. Most of the time, they will grow out of your nails and you won’t even remember them. However, if you are worried, or they cause you distress because you think they are ugly, there are a few things you can do:
• Hide the spots with a dark nail varnish or with a nail varnish that has a peachy color that matches the color of your own nails.
• Moisten your hands regularly, including your finger nails. Make sure you massage your nails with a moisturizing lotion regularly.
• Use vitamin E oil on your fingernails if they feel particularly dry, including around the side of the nails.

Is Prevention Possible?
Because there are so many possible causes for white dots on nails, prevention can be quite difficult. However, if you eat healthy and look after your body, you should not have any white dots on nails occurring. If, however, you notice that a spot appears on your nail and does not move, you need to see a dermatologist. If the spot doesn’t move, it would imply that it is actually underneath the nail, which could point to a variety of other causes. This is particularly true if you notice further discoloration of the nail as well, which could point to a range of other illnesses.

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