Health

What Are Those White Spots on Your Toenails?

Finding strange new splotches, patches of discoloration, and other oddities on our body can cause some alarm — especially when we have no clue how they got there. But if you’ve noticed white spots on your toenails, we can ease some of your worries. 

The most obvious (and likely) reason for white spots to appear on our little piggies is banging them on a hard surface. The technical term for this is “leukonychia” and essentially means that a force caused the nail to bend but not break. Removing a gel manicure might also create or reveal similar minor damage to the nail beds underneath, or cause a mild allergic reaction.

However, Andrew Weil, MD, explains that in all of these cases, it can take six weeks for a white mark to show up after an injury occurs. We may forget about the cause by then, so it’s important to really think back to any potential issue before we start to freak out. The good news is Dr. Weil says these leukonychia white spots are harmless and will simply grow out on their own.

If you’re absolutely sure no damage has been inflicted on your toes, though, you could have a fungal infection called white superficial onychomycosis. In this case, the spots start small and slowly converge until the entire nail is pale, thick, and flaky. It’s rare, but catching it early is the best way to make sure it doesn’t take over the whole nail. Your doctor can prescribe oral and topical medications that nip it in the bud. You can also discuss at-home toenail fungus treatments to find the best way to clear things up.

A lack of zinc or calcium in your system can also cause white spots, but it’s incredibly rare. You can get a blood test done to make sure you’re not in need of extra nutrients, but your nails would most likely not be the first symptom of those deficiencies. 

Chances are, your mysterious white spots just need time to grow out on their own. Here’s hoping you can go back to showing off flawless toesies again soon!

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