• "What Are These White Spots? Should I be concerned about white spots on my fingernails? By Nelson Lee Novick, MD, FACP, FAAD May 8, 2000 -- In most cases, no. While there are many reasons for these white spots (called leukonychia), most of them are due to mild trauma -- such as hitting or slamming your fingernail on or into something -- and there's usually little cause for worry. The good news is they'll simply grow out with time. Because a normal fingernail takes about eight months to grow out completely, you may not notice the mark of an injury for several months after the fact. If you see white spots about halfway up the nail, you can assume that the insult took place approximately four months earlier. But if you can' t remember slamming that finger keep in mind there are other causes for white spots. If you use nail enamels, nail hardeners, or artificial nails, it's also possible that you're having an allergic reaction. Such products can cause nail fragility and very fine splitting or layering of the nail plate, which may result in whitish spots. The white spots may also be something that you picked up at the gym or during your monthly manicure, namely a fungal, yeast, or bacterial infection that attacks the substance of the nail directly, leaving a whitish streak or spot behind. If you've forgotten to wear your flip-flops at the gym or if you're unsure about the hygiene at your nail salon, ask your doctor to take scrapings of nail tissue for fungal and bacterial cultures. If there's a pesky organism causing the spots, both topical and oral therapies can clear up this problem in a few weeks. Two skin conditions that affect millions of Americans, psoriasis and eczema, could also be the cause. Both can occasionally leave whitish spots on the nails, either by disrupting normal nail production at the root or causing separation at the tip. Because both disorders typically involve the skin as well as the nails, they're almost always diagnosed as a result of the accompanying skin problems, so if you've got the spots alone, it's unlikely you've got psoriasis or eczema. Finally, there are a number of total-body ("systemic") conditions that can leave white spots on your otherwise unblemished talons. Certain nutritional deficiencies, particularly a lack of zinc or protein in your diet, can cause a nearly total whiteout of your nail except for the tips or even a pattern of white bands across the width of the nail. Cirrhosis, a form of chronic liver disease usually brought about by alcoholism, can also result in nails that are almost completely white. Keep in mind, though, that white spots in that case are rarely the primary flag for diagnosis but usually occur well after this disease has made its presence known in other ways. Given the number of conditions that can cause white spots, if you have a sudden crop of them on your nails (and you haven't caught your digits in the car door during the last six months), make an appointment to see your dermatologist. Nelson Lee Novick, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, N.Y., and author of You Can Look Younger At Any Age: A Leading Dermatologist's Guide (Holt, 1999). His private practice is devoted primarily to the treatment of hair, skin, and nail conditions and to cosmetic dermatology. 2000 Healtheon/WebMD. All rights reserved." source:
  • The answer is a lack of zinc! I asked all sorts of professional people who gave me the same answer about banging my nails. NOT. Finally I ran across Shaklee. They sold cleaning products as well as vitamins & minerals. They had a book with different symptoms. I have always had white spots on my nails & I wasn't hitting my finger nails all the time. As soon as I started taking more zinc the white went away. Just be careful & don't take too much.

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