White Spots on Nails…
ASK ANA: White Spots on Nails
“My husband used to have a LOT of white spots on his nails, and he recently radically changed his diet. He fell off the wagon for one week and ate a bunch of junk food.
I was reading him your article, and he showed me his nails. Nine of them have a white spot in the exact same spot of the nail, which he believes is from the week of junk food.
My thought is that you know what you are talking about, and I’m confused, because he didn’t slam all ten of his fingers in the car door at the same time, so what could have caused the single white spots all in the same length of his nails?” ~Kari
This is such a great question and there is a great deal of debate around the true answer of white spots on nails.
The quick answer is that they are “nail bruises”. They are usually not caused by a calcium or zinc deficiency.
“Leukonychia is defined as any condition that causes abnormal whitening of the nail plate. Leukonychia spots are large groups of whitish nail cells trapped inside the nail plate.
These spots are generally caused by injuries to the matrix area (behind the cuticle line). For example, spots found in the cuticle area are from one-month-old injuries. That is about how long it takes the spot to grow past the eponychium (cuticle line).” ~Doug Schoon, author of Nail Structure and Product Chemistry
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., “these white spots are simply a sign of some past injury to the nail matrix, where the nail cells are formed. Two myths are that white spots in nails are a sign of calcium deficiency, or a zinc deficiency. They aren’t true. Neither is the well known but bizarre notion that the spots are due to eating too much Hellmann’s mayonnaise (I’m not making this up).” ~Andrew Weil, M.D.
Changing your diet for one week isn’t going to cause or change these bruises.
Slamming fingers in the door usually causes a large red bruise and potentially, temporary loss of the nail.
These white spots on nails are usually caused by little bumps in life. Simply bumping your matrix against a counter, or having something fall on your hand can cause them.
It’s not enough to really hurt. It might sting for a few minutes and then go away.
You brush it off, and don’t think of it again.
Then the bruise shows up 30 days later and you have no idea what caused it.
Men also have a higher pain tolerance. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has come in from doing something outside and is bleeding from a small cut. He doesn’t remember it happening.
If your husband has them all in the same place on several fingers, it’s possible that they didn’t happen all on the same day. Perhaps it was a construction project or trimming the trees over several days.
He may have gradually bruised all of his fingers over a weeks time. As they grow out, it would look like he did it all at once.
I often see several photos of women who have a lot of white spots as in Sue’s photo here. When I inquired about her nail care habits, I discovered that she pushes back her eponychium daily, often times with a metal cuticle remover tool.
The problem was that she was pushing down way too hard with the tool and damaging the nail matrix.
You can also see extreme redness and swelling of her skin. This was caused by pushing the eponychium back too hard and disrupting the guardian seal. You can read her entire story here.
The proximal fold of your eponychium only needs to be gently pushed back with your fingernail every 4 to 7 days to release it from the cuticle.
For the most part, these nail bruises are nothing to worry about. They just need to grow out. It will take about 4 months.
If every single nail has several of these white spots, and isn’t caused by excessively pushing back the eponychium, then a deeper health issue may be involved and it would be wise to visit a doctor.