It happens every spring. Patients call us on the phone concerned about white spots on their toenails. Of little concern while hidden away for months in shoes and boots, for many people the idea of wearing sandals with strange looking nails can be embarrassing. Patients also want to know what’s causing this weird phenomenon.
Fortunately, this concern is usually an easy one to diagnose.
Here are 5 reasons you might find white spots on your toenails.
White Spots on Your Toenails Can Be Toenail Fungus
Far and away one of the most common reasons for white spots on your toenails is toenail fungus. Toenail fungus can also cause nails to become thick, brittle, misshapen and it can also spread among those who live with you.
So, it’s a great idea to get this condition treated. While toenail fungus can be very hard to get rid of, our office has developed a comprehensive treatment plan that has an 80%-90% success rate.
To be sure you have fungal toenails, our office will often test your nails.
White Spots on Your Toenails Can Be Psoriasis
Another condition that causes white spots on toenails is psoriasis. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that can mimic the look of fungus on your toenails. Therefore, treatment for toenail fungus is not an effective treatment for psoriasis on your nails. Learn more about psoriasis here.
White Spots on Your Toenails Can Be From Your Nail Polish Remover
A simple explanation for white spots on your toenails is constant use of nail polish and nail polish remover. While nail polish itself can leave your nails dry and brittle, the white spots (keratin granulation) are actually the result of using nail polish removers that contain acetone. It strips your nails of the proteins that keep your nails hydrated. While the white spots aren’t fungus, dried out nails are weaker and more susceptible to nail fungus.
In addition, it’s a really good idea to use a non-toxic nail polish as well to prevent your toenails from getting weak and for other health reasons. Dr.’s Remedy also makes a really good one.
White Spots on Your Toenails Can Be from Trauma
Another common cause of white spots on toenails is trauma. While most often toenails turn black due to excessive pressure on the nail and bleeding, if no bleeding occurred white spots can develop. Sometimes instead of spots you’ll see lines, particularly if the trauma is repetitive as with runners who wear shoes that are too short. When you visit your podiatrist, you’ll be asked whether you’ve experienced any injury to your nails to help rule out other causes.
White Spots on Your Toenails Can Be from Chemotherapy
White bands can also appear on the toenails because of chemotherapy. Your podiatrist should be asking you about the medication you’re taking to rule out this diagnosis.
While white spots on your nails can be benign, it’s a good idea to get them checked out so you can start treatment if necessary.