Why Are There White Spots On My Toenails?


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Have you ever looked at your toenails and noticed that they just don't look healthy? They used to be clear, but now they look opaque and thickened, and they have a white surface. What can cause toenails to turn white?

Why Toenails Become Discolored

Typically, our first thought when noticing white, discolored toenails is that we may have a fungal infection of the toenail. This indeed can be the cause of the white appearance. Fungus is an opportunist that lives naturally on our white spots on Houston toenails feet and in our shoes. If there is any trauma to our toenails, the fungus can penetrate and infect the toenail, which causes the nail to become thickened and discolored. Fungal toenails can be managed in a variety of ways. Topical medication, such as Clarus, are suitable for mild and moderate toenail infections. Oral medication, such as Lamisil, and new laser treatments are suitable for moderate to severe infections. As the fungus resolves, the white surface of the toenail should clear as well. Your Houston podiatrist will be able to advise you about the best treatment for your fungal toenails.

Fungus is not, however, the only cause of a discolored toenail. Trauma can also cause the nail to become discolored, deformed, and thickened. The location of the toenail injury will determine how it effects the appearance of the toenail. If the trauma is to the nail itself, it will often resulting in bleeding beneath the toenail: in this case, the discoloration can be temporary. That's because this discoloration to the toenail occurs as it is lifted from the nail bed; it often will resolve on it's own as the nail grows out. It is useful to use a topical anti fungal medication during this recovery period, in order to ensure that the damage to the nail will not allow a fungus infection to occur.

When the toenail is injured at the matrix (the group of cells responsible for growing the toenail) the damage can be permanent. This results in a continued thickening of the toenail and a persistent white discoloration. While there may be a fungal infection of the toenail at the beginning of the injury, use of an anti fungal medication will not fully improve your toenail's appearance. In these cases, you will gain better results by using a conditioner for the toenail. That, combined with any necessary fungal treatments, will help improve the toenail's appearance.

Toenails also develop a white appearance due to damage from toenail polish and toenail polish remover. Most nail polishes have chemicals, such as formaldehyde and toluene, that dry and damage the toenails. Nail polish remover also has chemicals, such as acetone, that do the same. Using a healthy nail polish and remover, such as Dr.'s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish, that does not contain these chemicals is the best of both worlds. It allows women to wear a stylish polish without damaging their toenails. The polish even has vitamins and natural antifungals to keep the nails even healthier, which is why we carry this brand in our office--and are even offering a great deal (2 bottles for just $30!) through the end of this month! 

Get Help Resolving Discolored Toenails

Don't let a white, discolored toenail go unchecked. Visit Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider to learn what treatment is best for you. You can also stop by our office just to pick up your Dr's Remedy nail polish.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.