The whitish spots on the nails are called leukonychia or white nail syndrome and it is advisable to consult a dermatologist if we see that ours have several of them
How many times have you wondered what are the white spots that occasionally appear on our nails? What if it is due to a lack of calcium, what if it is a bad diet … There are many theories, but the truth is that this appearance has nothing to do with what we eat.
The whitish spots on the nails are called leukonychia or white nail syndrome, and to understand what they are, you must first know what the nail is made of …
“Nails are translucent sheets formed by keratin, which is a protein and the main component of hair and nails, and they normally have a pink color as the vessels of the nail bed make transparent”, says Dr. Ana Alvarez-Vieitez, head of Dermatology Service of the Hospital Nuestra Señora del Rosario. The function of the nails is to protect the tissues of the hands and feet, although there may be a change in their color, both white, brown, yellow or black.
As the dermatologist says, within the alterations in the color of the nail, when it changes to white, which is leukonychia, it can be a total leukonychia, which is the entire white nail, or a partial leukonychia, when small transverse stripes appear, dotted white.
But let’s focus on the second. What do those spots that come out on our nails mean and how little we like them? Partial leukonychia is not considered a dermatological disease – it is asymptomatic – but it is advisable to consult a dermatologist.
Those characteristic spots, those whitish bands, are produced by an alteration of the fusion of the nail and the underlying layer; They are like small air bubbles that are perceived as white due to the effect of light and that are reflected differently from the rest of the nail, ”explains the dermatologist at Hospital Nuestra Senora del Rosario.
Word of mouth has led to the claim that white spots are due to lack of calcium, but this is not the case. Dr. Lourdes Navarro, dermatologist at the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, clarifies that there is no relationship with the level of calcium in the blood.
The amount of calcium in a normal nail is extremely low. The calcium in the blood does not influence at all, neither in the hardness of the nails nor in the appearance of these spots, “he says. The same can be said for vitamins, since a vitamin deficiency is not related to a greater appearance of white spots on the nails.
The expert in dermatology states that there are no people more prone to having these spots, but that, nevertheless, they do occur more frequently in children, because they tend to bite their nails, or in people who perform excessive or very aggressive manicures in which there is damage in the closest part of the nail, at the cuticle level, where the nail matrix is located. “Also having long nails leads to more constant trauma, and can translate into a greater appearance of these spots that appear in the form of white dots,” she explains.
“Besides that, they can also be deformed by different causes: skin or systemic diseases, infections, antibiotics or chemotherapy treatments, microaggressions or traumatisms”, summarizes Ana Alvarez-Vieitez.
In general, it can be said that there are many causes that can generate white spots on the nails, but the most common, the most frequent is their appearance by small trauma in the part closest to the nails.
“There is no need to worry about this manifestation in the vast majority of cases, generally when it appears in isolation and is a punctate leukonychia since it is usually transitory”, says Dr. Lourdes Navarro.
Once again the best cure is also time: «Its treatment is mostly waiting for it, as it disappears on its own when the nail grows. In any case, when you realize its appearance, it has been a while since the microtrauma that caused it, ”says Dr. Ana Álvarez-Vieitez.
For the dermatologist, there is no better treatment than prevention: “It is essential not to cause micro-trauma such as biting ourselves, biting our skin, touching that area, etc.”
In the case of toenails, it would be convenient to also avoid playing sports that impact them. «Manicures and pedicures must be done with good products and delicately. When removing nail polish, for example, it must be done completely and with recommended products, “she warns.
In this case, a good diet is also important, rich in calcium (dairy), zinc (seeds, peas or strawberries), B2 (almonds) and folic acid (salmon and vegetables).
Similarly, it is advisable not to wash your hands too much. Although it may be contradictory now that it is a habit recommended by experts to avoid catching Covid-19, the dermatologist emphasizes that you have to hydrate them very well and go to the dermatologist when it appears to rule out other pathologies.