Here’s What Those White Spots On Your Nails Mean & How You Can Prevent Them

The most likely explanation for white patches on the nails is nail trauma. “When white spots are located within the nail plate and cannot be scraped or removed easily, they are called punctate leukonychia and are due to trauma to the nail matrix aka the half-moon area where the nail grows from,” explains dermatologist and nail specialist Dr. Dana Stern to InStyle. “These white marks will grow out as the nail grows and are especially common in children who are more trauma prone and also have much thinner, less protective nail plates.”

Long-term usage of nail polish can also result in keratin granulations, which are characterized by white spots on the nails. When the outermost layers of nail cells are detached along with polish, keratin granulations can develop, producing white and rough patches on the nails. The good news is: they will go away over time as your nails continue growing. According to Dr. Stern, white superficial onychomycosis — a rare type of nail fungus — is a possible cause for the appearance of white streaks on the nails. “This chalky white appearance at the nail is due to a fungus that invades the superficial layers of the nail plate,” explains Dr. Stern. 

The presence of white streaks on the nails may also signify a medical issue. White streaks, also known as Muehrcke’s nails, are typical in people with kidney failure, claims HealthMatch. Muehrcke’s nails are caused when there is insufficient blood supply to the nail bed.

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