Lack of care? Milk deficiency? Effects of manicure or polish? Dr. Trabelsi Messai, dermatologist, unravels the truth about these white spots to find perfect nails.
The appearance of small white spots on the nails is known medically as leukonychia. They mainly affect the hands but can also appear on the feet. There are several possible causes. Most often, they are not serious and disappear spontaneously with the regrowth of the nail. But these spots should be consulted if they spread. Dr. Sabiha Trabelsi Messai, dermatologist at the Dermatology and Venereology Department of the University Hospital of Grenoble, Alps, explains.
Understanding the structure of a nail
To understand the appearance of white spots, you need to know the structure of the nail. The nail (or nail plate) is a superposition of several layers of keratin (fibrous protein) synthesized by the matrix that surrounds the base of the nail. The nail plate rests on the nail bed. Its fixed edges are surrounded by a skin fold called the nail fold. The visible part of the nail has a very small whitish area: the lunula. It is also composed of a pinkish part that occupies about 90% of the nail.
The white marks that can appear on the surface of the nail are related to small traumas that lead to disorders of keratinization. The most frequent appearance of leukonychia is small white spots, single or multiple. This is called punctate leukonychia.
White spots on the nails: causes
White spots indicate a lack of calcium or magnesium
FALSE: Contrary to popular belief, white spots are not synonymous with a lack of calcium or magnesium. It is therefore useless to consume more dairy products in order to get rid of them on your nails.
A shock can be the cause of the marks.
TRUE. These punctuated white spots are often due to microtrauma on the nail matrix, caused by light shocks on the nails.
Manicures cause white spots
TRUE. Aggressive manicures (nail polish, nail polish remover, false nails), repeated movements to push back cuticles or small skins, or nail biting can cause white marks to appear.
White marks sometimes reveal the presence of a pathology
TRUE. Although they are benign in most cases, white spots can spread or cover more than half of a nail, indicating other specific alterations such as inflammatory diseases (such as psoriasis and eczema) or infections (bacteria or fungus). In this case, it is preferable to consult a dermatologist so that he can establish a diagnosis.
How to remove white spots on the nails?
Treatment is essential
There is no specific treatment for leukonychia. All you have to do is wait for the nail to grow back and then cut off the part where the white spot appeared. On the other hand, if these white marks are the result of a sporting activity or another health problem, the medical cause must be treated once the diagnosis has been made (psoriasis, eczema, infection etc.).
You cannot use nail polish on a stained nail
FALSE. If these white spots are embarrassing from an aesthetic point of view, a camouflage, simply by putting dark nail polish, is possible. However, you should be careful about the composition of the manicure products used for your nails. Non-aggressive formulas are to be preferred for nail polishes and removers.
It is possible to prevent the appearance of white spots
TRUE. By avoiding microtrauma as much as possible. It is therefore recommended to take care of your nails and trim them regularly, to wear protective gloves when doing housework or gardening, and to follow safety instructions in the workplace.