Why Do You Get White Spots on Your Nails?

March 1, 2017
Ever wonder why those small white spots appear on your nails? Spoiler alert: it's not because of a lack of calcium like you were led to believe. Find out about the many reasons why this happens and how to prevent it.

Leukonychia is the official scientific name that refers to the appearance of white spots on your nails.

There are different kinds and causes. However, it isn’t proven to be a sign of a calcium deficiency like many think.

In this article, we want to tell you all about why white spots appear on your nails.

It’s very interesting!

The myths surrounding white spots on your nails


Most likely, at some point in your life you’ve looked at your nails and seen them: small white spots or lines that appear on your nails.

Our grandparents might say they’re a result of the lies we tell. Perhaps our parents told us that we need to drink more milk because we need more calcium.

But, none of these theories are the truth.

That’s why it’s time we clear things up and learn why it really happens.

Leukonychia can appear at any time and disappear just as quickly. It can be divided into four types:

1.  Punctata

These are small spots that spread up and down your fingernail. They usually appear during childhood. This is because of small, repeated damage.

2. Striata

This is when parallel, transverse bands appear. They are more common in women. They are caused by damage from aggressive manicures. They can also be due to chemotherapy.

3. Partial

This affects a specific part of the nail. Usually, they appear at the far end of your nails.

4. Total


This is when the whole nail has a white-ish, almost homogeneous appearance. This is a rare condition. It can appear at birth or at an early age. In most cases, it’s hereditary.

A lack of zinc and spots on your nails

These white spots are NOT a result of not having enough calcium.  However, there is something we’ve gotten right: we’re missing a nutrient.

The white lines and spots develop at the root of the nail. They keep moving forward as the nail grows.

A deficiency of zinc may be the source of the problem.  When the nail matrix is ruptured, that’s where you’ll see a white spot.

Leukonychia can also be due to a disease or health problem. For example:

  • Psoriasis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • nephritis

Also, not getting certain nutrients can make white spots more likely. This is because they help with the growth and development of fingernail compounds.

Some of these are:

If a lack of these nutrients gives us white spots because they affect the formation of nails, it can also make them weak and fragile. As a result, they are more vulnerable to suffer damage that leaves marks.

Other causes of white marks on your nails.


These marks are not dangerous, but they don’t look pretty. This is especially true for women.

However, there could be another cause: they could come from inflammation and damage to the matrix. This causes a different and abnormal keratinization.

We need to keep in mind that fingernails grow one tenth of an inch per month. Because of this, when we see a spot in the middle of our nails, we know about when it happened. The damage happened two or three months earlier.

We don’t see it earlier because it is so close to the cuticle.

Of course, there are some everyday habits and practices that can produce leukonychia. They can even happen when we are paying attention to what we’re doing.

Among them, we find:

  • Biting your nails or cuticles.
  • Manicures that are too aggressive (for instance, using chemicals).
  • Doing some kinds of crafts.
  • Cutting your nails too much.
  • Typing too hard.
  • Tapping your fingernails on the table.
  • Using strong cleaning chemicals without gloves.
  • Always painting your nails.

How can you avoid white spots on your fingernails?

At the moment, there aren’t any treatments for leukonychia There is only one way to get rid of spots on your nails. You have to wait until they grow enough that you can cut them or file them down.

While this happens, if you can’t stand to see lines on your nails, you can either paint them or wear gloves.

It’s worth noting that there are times when you should see a dermatologist. These include if you see marks all over your nails or if they become very clear and take on an opaque tone.

This could be due to a permanent problem with the nail matrix.

If you don’t want to see all those “little clouds in our nails,” you need to:

  • Use good hygiene and keep your nails hydrated.
  • Avoid nail polishes and aggressive treatments.
  • Let your nails rest between each painting (leave at least a day before painting them again).
  • Use gloves to clean your house (plates, floors, bathroom, kitchen, etc.).
  • Treat your nails with care, and not only the ends. Above all, you should care for the cuticle and roots.
  • Eat foods that are rich in zinc, like dry fruits and wheat germ.
  • Eat vitamin A on a daily basis. You can find it in carrots, pumpkin, and peaches.


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