White spot on the nails: What to do?


The nail is a terminal phanere, that is to say an apparent epidermal production such as hairs, feathers, scales, claws or teeth. It is produced above the last phalanx, in the nail matrix located under the skin. On this part of the body, we sometimes notice white spots, the first question that comes to mind is: What is the white of the nails?

Naturally, it exists on a white part of the nail located at the base (more easily visible on the thumb) is called: lunula (from the Latin lunula it means small moon). This is the visible end of the matrix. This is not always visible to everyone.
Apart from this white part of the nail naturally we see the appearance of white spots which are not natural. Thus, in medical jargon, white spots on the nails are called leukotrichia. They are mainly located on the surface of the nails of the hands, but can also appear on the nails of the feet. To better understand this phenomenon, it is important to know the structure of the nail, also called the nail plate. So, it should be noted that the surface of the nail is composed of two distinct parts:

  • the lunula, or the upper part of the nail, white in color, it is very small in size
  • the pink part, the most important, it represents 90% of the visible part of the nail

Under the pink part, in the deep skin, is the matrix that surrounds the base of the nail. Its mission is to synthesize keratin, a fibrous protein produced by keratinocytes. This protein is superimposed by constituting several layers, thus allowing the nail to grow and therefore to renew itself. When there is a keratinization disorder, there is a defect in the layering of the keratin which gives rise to the appearance of small white spots 1 to 3 millimeters in diameter on the surface of the nail. They can be single or multiple, this is called punctate leukonychia.

What is the cause of white spots on the nails?

One of the most common causes of white spots on the nails are microtraumas. A shock on the nail, even trivial, can cause small lesions which deteriorate the structure of the cells producing keratin, which disrupts normal keratinization. punctuated.

On the other hand, would a lack of calcium, an excess of varnish be a cause?

No, a lack of calcium is in no way the cause of white spots on the nails. This received idea thus unnecessarily pushes certain people who have white spots to consume more dairy products and products containing calcium. White spots on the nails are due to microtraumas on the nail matrix. These are caused by excessive manicure, in particular repeated movements to push back the cuticles or small skins, or by biting of the skin next to the nail matrix” informs the dermatologist.

White spots: mycosis, allergy, eczema, psoriasis?

Leukonychia are mostly represented by punctate leukonychia, which appear as white spots 1 to 3 millimeters in diameter. These white spots generally represent a small purely aesthetic anomaly without any seriousness. “More exceptionally, these white spots signal other alterations of the nail, specific to inflammatory diseases” indicates Dr. Olivier Cogrel. It is therefore necessary to take the advice of a doctor when where the white spots cover more than half of the nail or when they extend. “It can then be a mycosis, especially in the nails of the big toes of the foot.” It can also be an allergy to varnish or nail polish remover, eczema or psoriasis.

How can white spots be treated

To get rid of white spots, it is generally sufficient to cut the part of the nail where the spot is located, which when it has grown enough to make this white spot disappear. The regrowth of a fingernail takes place over a long period of several months. It is essential to treat the medical cause (mycosis, eczema, psoriasis, etc.) when it is found. On the other hand, it is important to moisturize your hands and nails well after washing your hands, to cut your nails short and to wear gloves when doing housework.

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