Having white toenails can be quite alarming. There are many reasons why a person’s toenails might turn white. Some reasons are serious and some are not. In this article, we will explore the causes and cures for this common problem. Read on to learn more.
1. Injury: Sometimes whiteness of the toenail is caused by an injury to the matrix. This is the area where new growth begins. When this is the case, there will just be a small white portion of the nail and it will grow out as time passes. This is not a cause for alarm. You can simply disguise the area with nail polish if you wish. Just be careful not to keep your nails coated constantly because this can lead to problems with fungus.
2. Infection: Fungus, which is present in the air and in soil at all times, can also cause your toenails to turn white. Good air circulation can help prevent fungus. Wearing shoes and socks that do not allow your feet to breathe, or even keeping your toenails covered with polish continuously, can prevent free circulation of air and cause fungus infection.
This may manifest on the nails as white spots or the entire nail may turn white (or alternately yellowish or brown). A fungal infection of the nail may cause the nail to thicken or to become thinner. The nail may also become weak and prone to tearing, splitting or flaking.
Fungal infection can be treated with good hygiene, regular exposure to air and application of an over-the-counter anti-fungal preparation. If this treatment does not show satisfactory results within a month or so, you should see your doctor for prescription solutions.
3. Diet: Nutritional deficiencies may also cause whitening of the nails. This is especially true of calcium deficiency, which can cause white spots to appear on fingernails and toenails.
A zinc deficiency will also cause white spots, along with hair loss and frequent infections. It is always a good idea to supplement with zinc and get plenty of zinc in the diet because it boosts the immune system and contributes to overall good health.
4: Allergic reaction: Allergies may cause whitening of the nails. Typically, an allergic reaction to a personal care product and/or a nail product can cause problems. Usually, this type of allergic response builds up over time, so you might use a product happily for quite a while and then notice that it is causing you problems. Rotating your nail care products and giving your nails a break from polish can help prevent this problem.
5. Serious illness: Problems with the fingernails and toenails are often harbingers of serious illness. People with hepatitis or other liver diseases, kidney disease or heart disease often exhibit unusual nail symptoms, including white nails.
It is important that you understand that white nails are not usually indicative of serious illness. If you do have a serious illness, you are very likely to experience other symptoms along with your white nails. Usually, simply adjusting your lifestyle and personal care habits is enough to eliminate white spots on the nails.
Doing away with whiteness of the toenails
Solutions abound in the form of home remedies, over-the-counter treatments and prescription medications. Avoid wasting money on ineffective treatments by getting a proper diagnosis from your doctor before trying to treat the problem on your own.
Top home remedies
1. Eat right! If you are seeing random white spots on your nails, you probably need to improve your diet. Doing this is always a good idea! Be sure to eat a balanced, healthy diet with plenty of high quality protein and calcium. Take a comprehensive daily supplement to be sure of getting your basic nutritional requirements met.
2. Groom correctly! Trim your toenails carefully. Don’t cut them too short, and don’t cut in toward the corners of the nails. Be sure to use sharp, clean nail clippers and don’t share your nail care equipment with others.
Don’t trim the skin surrounding your toenails, and don’t push back the cuticles on your toenails. Treat your toes and their nails gently and avoid any injury that might let fungus get in.
3. Clean & massage! Sometimes discoloration of the nails is caused by dryness. It can also be caused by poor circulation. Wash your feet thoroughly every day and moisturise your feet and toenails with a good lotion. Washing and massaging your feet and nails daily can help keep them healthy. A moisturiser containing anti-fungal essential oils such as lavender, tea tree oil and/or peppermint oil can be helpful.
4. Seek help! If you have consulted with your doctor and given all recommended home remedies and over the counter treatments a try without success, you may need to turn to a prescription medication. There are a number of prescription topical solutions that you can apply to your nails every day to kill fungus. There are also oral medications that will help deal with a systemic fungal infection; however, these should be used only as a last resort as they can be very hard on your liver. For severe fungal infection, laser treatments can be very effective.
5. Be patient & persistent! If your white nails are caused by a fungal infection, you should understand that it can take quite a while to deal with this problem. The fact of the matter is, you will never entirely eliminate it. Fungus is present everywhere, all the time – even on your skin and nails. The key is to create an environment that is unfriendly to fungus.
Smart, consistent lifestyle & personal care habits are key
Practicing good personal care habits, eating right and maintaining a clean environment will help prevent fungal infections.
Be sure to keep your skin and nails clean and well moisturized. This will help prevent injuries that might provide an entry point for fungus.
Examine your toenails daily and trim them carefully as needed.
Wear clean, well-fitted shoes that are in good condition. Avoid wearing the same shoes day-in and day-out. Switch out your shoes and allow them time to air out and “breathe” in between wearing.
Wear comfortable socks that wick moisture away from your feet, and make good use of anti-fungal foot powder to keep your feet dry and discourage fungus growth.
Always wear the right foot-gear for each activity. Wear sandals for relaxing in a dry environment as this will allow your feet to air out – thus discouraging fungus. Wear steel toed boots or other protective foot gear when performing tasks that might result in foot injury.
Taking good care of yourself will help strengthen your immune system. When you are healthy overall, you are unlikely to have problems with fungal infection, which is the main cause of white toenails. Follow the advice presented here to prevent and treat white toenails and enjoy overall good health.