White Spots On Your Child’s Nail – Should You Be Worried?

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White Spots On Your Child's Nail - Should You Be Worried?

A child’s fingernails can reveal a lot about his overall health. Pink and lustrous nails are usually indicative of good health. Discolouration, lines and ridges, brittle nails, white spots on nails can be a sign of an underlying medical issue. The emergence of white lines or spots on a child’s nail is also called leukonychia. It is mostly a harmless condition fairly prevalent in children. The spots vanish in due course of time as the nail grows out.

What Do White Spots on Your Child’s Nails Mean?

White spots on a child’s nail can imply a zinc deficiency which is easily curable. Sometimes it corresponds with low magnesium and calcium levels. At times it can be a mark of a past injury rendered at the base of the nail which starts showing as a white spot when the nails grow a bit. Irrespective of the cause the white spots are normally temporary and are likely to disappear when a nail grows out completely which roughly takes 8-9 months. However, instances wherein recurrent white spots may appear on most nails can be indicative of some viral or fungal infection or chronic problems linked to liver, kidney, heart.

Types of Leukonychia

Leukonychia can be of the following types:

1. Total Leukonychia

Such a condition is usually genetic. The whole nail may change to fully white.

2. Partial Leukonychia

In this condition, whitening of some parts of the nail occurs. Partial leukonychia can have three variations:

  • Leukonychia striata: Horizontal white streaks appear parallel to the base of the nail (lunula). This condition is also called Mees’ lines or transverse leukonychia.
  • Leukonychia punctata: Tiny white spots become visible on the nail. It is the most common form of leukonychia. It is also referred to as “true” leukonychia.
  • Longitudinal leukonychia: Longitudinal white lines emerge beneath the nail plate. Longitudinal leukonychia is quite rare.

3. Apparent Leukonychia

This condition involves white discolouration of nails due to alterations to the nail bed instead of the nail plate. Terry’s nails, Muehrcke’s nails, half and half nails are variations of apparent leukonychia.

What Causes White Spots (Leukonychia)?

Some of the likely causes of white spots on nails can be:

1. Nail Injury

White spots can be a result of some minor injury or trauma inflicted on the nail matrix, for example, banging of nails against a desk, fingers shutting in a door, bending of a nail, incorrectly clipping a nail. The damage may have happened weeks before. But nails tend to grow very slowly. Therefore, the injury may become visible when the nails grow in the form of a white spot.

2. Allergic Reaction

Another cause of white spots can be a mild allergy due to exposure of nails to certain chemicals as found in nail polish, removers, and hardeners.

3. Infection

The emergence of white spots on nails can be a fungal infection. If left untreated it can grow and slowly spread to the bed of the nail. The nail may turn flaky and brittle.

Infection on a child's nail

4. Mineral Deficiency

White spots on nails may become noticeable in case of mild deficiency of certain minerals like zinc caused by some illness or variations in hormone levels.

5. Possible Side Effect

Leukonychia can also surface as a plausible side effect of certain medications or treatments like systemic chemotherapy.

6. Other Causes

Some possible additional causes can be:

What Are the Symptoms of White Spots on Nails?

White spots can manifest in various ways. Their cause may dictate their form and extent. For example, a nail injury may show as a big white dot while an allergic reaction can produce several dots across the nail. Some of the common symptoms can be:

  • Small measured spots
  • Larger distinct individual spots
  • Lines (longitudinal or horizontal) across the nail

Nails with white spots

Do These White Spots Occur Only Due to Calcium Deficiency?

Most people think calcium deficiency causes the white spots on nails. But many medical researchers like to challenge this notion. They say that both the occurrences are not connected. White spots are most commonly a result of an old injury to the nail matrix which starts showing as the nail grows out. Alternatively, a fungal infection, an allergy to nail products or a food item can also be probable triggers. Sometimes the condition can be genetic. In very rare instances it can point to some deficiency which more often than not is related to low levels of zinc or biotin.

Treatments for White Spots

The treatment for white lines on nails toddler may differ depending on their cause. A doctor to make a diagnosis may recommend a nail biopsy or mycology wherein nail tissues or clippings are studied. He may also propose a blood test to establish the likely presence of an underlying disease. Some treatments can be:

  • In case the cause is a fungal infection your doctor may prescribe oral antifungal medicines and topical antifungal creams.
  • In case it is a case of allergy your doctor may suggest discontinuation of all nail products and give some anti-allergic medication.
  • Most injury to a nail usually heals with time. With the growth of the nail, the wound will move up. You can clip off the damaged part.
  • Cosmetic treatments are available if discolouration of nails is an issue.

Home Remedies to Get Rid of White Spots/Line on Children Nails

Some useful home remedies that may help to get rid of white marks on nails in children can be:

1. Tea Tree Oil

First, add olive oil to tea tree oil to make a mixture. Once this is done, apply the same to the affected nail. Continuous use of this mixture may produce positive results.

2. Baking Soda

You can prepare a mixture combining ½ cup baking soda, some Epsom salt, ¼ cup peroxide and 4 cups of warm water. Dip your child’s nails in this solution for some time regularly for reduction of white spots.

3. Orange Oil

Applying orange oil to the discoloured nails using a dropper or some cotton may prove beneficial in doing away with the white spots.

Orange oil

4. White Vinegar

You can soak your child’s nail in a concoction of white vinegar and lukewarm water for about 10 minutes every day for eliminating the white spots.

5. Lemon Slices

Rubbing lemon slices on your child’s fingernails may help in eradicating the white spots.

When to Consult Paediatrician

You may like to consult a paediatrician in the following cases:

  • If all the nails turn completely white
  • If several white spots become evident on all the nails
  • If parallel discoloured lines appear on all the nails
  • If your child’s nail become part brown and part white

The occasional white spots or leukonychia on your child’s nails may not be a worrisome situation. Usually, it doesn’t require any special treatment. In case a child frequently gets white spots on all his nails the issue may need further investigation to rule out any likely serious complications.

Also Read: Dark Circles Under Eyes in Kids

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