Ah, the dreaded white spot on your nail. You thought it would never come for you.
That fungal tap on the shoulder was for other people. Or so you thought.
Yet, here you are, avoiding eye contact with your nail for too long. Yep, I get a lot of emails about white spots on nails.
Now there's a few different causes; and a fungal nail infection is one of them.
White Spot on Nail (Is it Fungal?)
Ok, let's get straight to the chase.
Is a white spot/s on your nail anything to seriously worry about?
Answer: No. In the vast majority of cases.
Excluding rare reasons, the absolute worst is a fungal nail infection.
And an early one at that.
(You're not destined for a hospital bed with concerned nurses pointing you out to a consultant)
White Spots on Nails From a Vitamin Deficiency?
But hang on, am I saying there's nothing AT ALL concerning?
Look, you can have milky nail dots from a mineral need.
(It's usually zinc, not calcium, as it goes)
But these types of shortages are unusual in 2024.
Vitamin deficiency nail spots are far less likely than what I see (and treat) below...
So, Why Do I Have White Spots on my Nail?
Your nail has a white spot for one of several reasons.
The first is that you've knocked it about inside your shoe.
(I almost guarantee you won't have noticed this)
The second is from nail gel or acrylic damage.
(Isn't it funny how the beauty techs always have another excuse?)
The last is a fungal nail infection.
(It's actually called a superficial white onychomycosis infection. Or SWOM)
Let's have a look at each one in a bit more detail starting with your shoes...
White Spots on Nail From Your Shoes
Knocks and shocks from your footwear are a common cause of white toenail spots.
It's real prevalent in those shod in steel-toe capped boots.
(Think hot socks, long hours and moist skin)
What happens is that your toenails soften with sweat.
The top nail layer then microchips from a combo of tough leather and steel caps.
(That's what she said)
It's ironic that these white nail spots look identical to ones fueled by the beauty bar.
As opposed to the welding-yard.
White Spot on Nail From Acrylics and Gel Polish
As regular readers know, I'm a One-Man Army against shellac/gel/acrylic nails.
What I don't like is the way they never admit their precious product is responsible.
Anyway, all these butter plastic or superglue onto your nail.
They heat it, treat it then let you go your joyful way.
All this time, your nail (finger or toe) is trying to heal from a scrape down.
It's gasping for air and thirsty for fluid.
You end up with white dots on your nails because the top layer is corrupted.
As a result, it's now vulnerable to a fungal infection.
White Spot on Nail From a Fungal Nail Infection
Ah, a fungal infection: the white nail spot final boss.
Unlike the two above, it won't go away on its own.
The best fungal nail spot clue is the way it grows.
As in, it doesn't stop.
It starts as a few chalky dots that look like a dusting of yeasty flour.
Over time, this dreadful constellation masses together.
It then brightens to a star-like white and forms an oblong or circle (ish) shape.
Houston, We Got a Problem...
Before we go any further, there's an issue.
White nail dots from all of the above can look identical.
(So that's shoe trauma, gel damage and nail fungus)
That's even to Podiatrists like me who see hundreds of nails every week.
The problem is, if it's a fungal infection, you're giving it precious time to sink its hooks in even further.
How to Cure White Spots on Your Nail
Let me explain.
White nail spots from shellac get better with a break from the nail salon.
Milky dashes from your shoes improve with some TLC.
Fungal nail spots, however, don't improve with rest and rehab. They spread and get yellow, brown and crumbly.
So, what you need to do is work on a process of elimination.
Use Gehwol Nail Care on it for 6-8 weeks and watch for improvement. Give it time.
Fungal (Unless Proven Otherwise)
If there's no decrease, or the spot looks worse, assume an early fungal nail infection.
In this case, use Lamasil AT cream.
Ignore the athlete's foot label; it's core ingredient terbinafine is the best anti-fungal. Bar none.
Use the Gehwol, let it soak in then apply a healthy fingertip of Lamasil to the affected spot.
If you really want to go to town on the fungus, file it with an emery board before application.
This should drastically improve the white spot, if not cure it.
White Spot on Nail (Is it Fungal?)
Yep, it could be a vitamin or mineral deficiency causing those white spots on your nails.
Chances are though, it's not.
Chances are it's either shoe bashing, a fungus infection or polish damage.
Either way, follow the process of elimination above and get it gone!
(Before it turns into a REAL fungal infection of the yellow and thick kind)