Most people find that they have white marks on nails at least once in their lives. The medical term for these white spots is leukonychia. The body uses this symptom to tell you that you are not healthy enough. Therefore, it’s important to know the causes of white marks on nails and take effective measures to treat them.

Causes of White Marks on Nails



White marks on nails can be caused by injuries to the base of nail, called the matrix. Since it takes time for these spots to show up after the matrix is injured, you may not be able to remember exactly what happened to your nails. Common ways to injure the nail base include banging it against or with an object. Frequent or improper manicures can also cause injury leading to white spots on nails.

Additionally, frequent contact with paper, chalk and water can also cause dryness due to the lack of natural fat on nails thus resulting in white marks.


Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions to nail polish, nail polish remover or nail hardener can cause white marks on nails. Other irritants, including detergents, chemicals and other cleaning products can also lead to allergic reaction. You may also experience injury to the nail base when acrylic nails are applied on the fingers, causing white spots on fingernails.


Mineral and Vitamin Deficiencies

  • Zinc Deficiency

If you do not have enough zinc, which is naturally found in the body, you may notice that there are some white spots or streaks on your nails.

Besides white marks on nails, you may also experience other symptoms of zinc deficiency, including: problems with growth and development, mental slowness, hair loss, loss of appetite and weight loss, skin and eye related issues, longer healing times, changes in taste, diarrhea, and impotence.

  • Protein Deficiency

If you notice horizontal bands which are called Muehrcke’s lines, across your nail, you may not be eating enough protein. In most cases, these lines will vanish once your protein level becomes adequate. Other symptoms of protein deficiency include moodiness and anxiety, weakness, fainting, headache, trouble sleeping, longer healing times, pale skin or rashes, nail ridges, brittle or thinning hair, weight loss and edema.

  • Calcium Deficiency

Not getting enough calcium can also cause white spots on nails. Other symptoms of calcium deficiency include numbness or tingling in the face, hands and feet, muscle spasms, memory loss, and insomnia.

  • Vitamin C Deficiency

If you are not consuming enough vitamin C, you may get white spots on your nails. Other symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include easbruising, spontaneous bleeding and joint and muscle pains.


Fungal Infection

An infection known as fungal superficial onychomycosis can cause white spots to appear on the nail plate and then progress onto the nail bed. Other symptoms of this infection include flaky toenails, thick toenails, nail splitting and pain. Because other conditions can cause similar symptoms, it is important to have an examination completed by the doctor. The doctor will remove a piece of the nail and discover what kind of fungus grows on the nail.

Treatment for this condition is usually a combination of an ointment and oral medication.


Serious Conditions and Diseases

You should visit your doctor in order to get treatment quickly if your nails become discolored. Serious conditions causing white marks on nails include:

  • Liver disease

Cirrhosis and hepatitis are serious health conditions that may cause white spots on nails.

  • Kidney disease

If your nails are white and pink or if they have become partially white, you should be checked for kidney failure.

  • Anemia

This is a symptom of iron deficiency. Anemia may cause white or pale nail beds to appear. 

  • Koilonychias

Your nails are abnormally shaped, thin, and curved in if you have Koilonychias.

Home Remedies for White Marks on Nails


Let White Marks Grow Out

Although it may seem to take a long time, letting the white mark grow out is a good way to get rid of them. Once they have grown past the nail bed, you can clip or file off the white mark on nails. Be careful not to cut off too much or else the nail bed could become damaged.


Moisturize Your Nails

Keeping your nails moisturized helps to keep them healthy by maintaining the balance that the natural oil covering your nails provides. Hand lotion or vitamin E can be massaged into the hands and fingernails. It is also important to use creams to keep your hands from becoming dry after washing dishes, using chalk, or being around dust. Wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands from potentially harmful substances is also helpful.


Eat a Healthy Diet

Besides taking supplements recommended by your doctor, eating a balanced diet also helps your body, including your fingernails, to stay healthy. Your diet should include:

  • Zinc. Increase your consumption of foods that contain zinc, such as beef shanks, yogurt, crab, oysters, spinach, pork shoulder, whole grains, nuts and baked beans, or try taking zinc supplements.

  • Protein. To increase your protein intake, try eating fish, such as salmon or tuna, turkey breast, lean beef, pork loin, tofu, yogurt, beans, seeds, nuts, and drink soy milk.

  • Calcium. You can help prevent your nails from developing white spots by consuming foods and drinks that are rich in calcium, including milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, seafood and legumes.

  • Vitamin C. Be sure to get enough in your diet by drinking orange juice, eating oranges, grapefruits, kiwis, berries, citrus fruits, papayas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli and tomatoes.

  • Iron. To treat iron deficiency anemia, you can make dietary changes by eating foods high in iron, including red meat, poultry, pork, seafood, peas, beans, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, dried fruit such as raisins and apricots and limiting dairy can help to treat anemia.


Keep Your Nails Clean and Properly Cut

Be sure to trim your nails every week and to keep them clean in order to minimize your chances of getting an infection. When manicuring your nails, be sure to apply moisturizer and massage them in order to keep them hydrated and to keep your blood circulating properly. When trimming your nails, use sharp scissors. Use cardboard rather than metal nail files. When filing your nails, go from the outside to the inside.


Protect Your Nails from Injuries

To keep your nails from becoming injured, avoid any activities that may harm them, such as lifting heavy items or forcing slider doors that are hard to close. Take special care when washing dishes.

When to See a Doctor

If you notice white spots on nails spreading or getting worse, contact your doctor to find out the cause and treatment. Other symptoms that you should consult your doctor about include clubbed or distorted nails, pain, or a bluish tint as these may be caused by a more serious condition that needs to be treated by a professional.

The following video gives more information about white marks on nails:


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