Known medically as Leukonychia, (from the Greek words leuko (“white”) and onyx (“nail”), white spots on the nail/s are most commonly caused by a minor injury or trauma to the nail matrix, the base of the nail under the skin, where the nail is formed. If you’re not sure exactly where your nail matrix is, have a look at this article on Nail Anatomy. Anyone can have white spots on their nails, no matter their sex, age, or ethnicity.
Injury can be from something as simple as biting your nails, picking off your gel polish, or tapping your fingernails on a hard surface. Accidentally banging your nails during day-to-day activities, or slamming a finger in a door, window or drawer is a little more painful and also causes these spots. Incorrectly fitting footwear can cause white spots on the toenails, as can bumping or kicking your toes on low furniture such as a couch, bed post or door frame.
Complete regrowth for a fingernail takes between 6-9 months, while a toenail takes between 12-18 months. A white spot can take months to grow out to the point where it is seen in the middle of the nail, and by then, you would have probably forgotten all about the minor injury that caused it.
Typically, the white spots are harmless, they just grow out with the nail and that’s it. White spot gone. From a maintenance perspective, white spots are usually just left alone. They are not contagious and don’t affect your manicure service. Nail polish covers them and most people don’t even know they’re there, even without polish.
Although, in very rare cases white spots can indicate a larger problem. Certain health conditions and medications (such as chemotherapy and treatments for bacterial infections) can also cause them.
If you are experiencing other health problems, such as skin conditions (such as eczema or psoriasis), diabetes, or you have heart, kidney or liver issues, then you would need to contact your doctor and bring the white spots to their attention. Just like the eyes are the windows to the soul, the nails are the windows to the body’s internal wellbeing.
When it is an internal issue rather than just minor trauma, the white spots will appear on multiple nails, not just one. The spots will grow out at the same level and rate on all the affected nails. If you have a few white spots at different levels on odd nails, with no underlying medical issues, the chances are you’re probably just accident prone or bump your nails often. If you’re worried about it, there’s no harm in getting your doctor to check them out and put your mind at ease.
Please remember that your nail technician is not medically qualified to make a diagnosis based on what s/he sees on your nails. If s/he suspects that something looks out of the ordinary, please do not be offended if s/he asks you make an appointment with your doctor to have it looked at it before performing your manicure or pedicure service. It may be inconvenient for you not to get a manicure or pedicure on that day, as you had planned, but your nail technician should have your overall health and wellbeing in mind and not just doing your nails and sending you on your way.
If you don’t get frequent manicures and you notice something on your own nails that looks out of the ordinary, make an appointment (or a virtual appointment) to see your doctor and have it checked, or discuss it with them.