Everyone occasionally gets white spots on toenails or fingernails and, most of the time, they’re nothing to be concerned about. Those small crescent shaped white discolorations that appear at the cuticle and move slowly outwards as the nail grows, are simply the result of minor damage to the root of the nail, where it is formed. You probably bumped your finger or toe causing very minor damage at the root. The nail will grow out and the white area will disappear, leaving a normal looking nail.
Occasionally, however, white spots on toenails or fingernails are a sign of something worse: it may be the early warning signs that a fungus has gotten in under the nail and is starting to grow. If the whitish area appears somewhere other than at the cuticle, especially at the other end, the tip of the nail, it bears close watching. If a fungus is growing, the discoloration should get larger and it will probably change color, darkening to shades of yellow or brown. The nail may separate from the nail bed as the fungus grows, and the nail will begin to get thicker and may start to come apart, flaking and splitting.
White spots on toenails or fingernails that are getting larger and aren’t growing out with the nail should be seen by a doctor for a professional diagnosis. If it is a fungal nail infection (onychomycosis), it’s a good idea to start treating it right away, before it becomes too advanced. The more it is able to spread, and the thicker the infected nail becomes, the harder it will be to get rid of the infection. Small white spots on toenails that are just beginning to spread may respond to treatment relatively easily.
There are many traditional home remedies, over the counter treatments, natural healing products and prescription drugs that are recommended for the treatment of onychomycosis. Discuss your options with your family doctor. Your choice will be affected by the extent of the infection, your level of comfort with prescription drugs that come with potential side effects, your trust in natural or home remedies, and, significantly, your budget. Prescription drugs for fungal nail infections tend to be extremely expensive, commercial products are in the mid-range, and home remedies can be virtually free. None are absolutely guaranteed to work. You’ll have to decide how much it is worth to you to get rid of white spots on toenails.
To reiterate – don’t be hasty. Most white spots on toenails are nothing to worry about. If you have discolorations that you suspect are caused by a fungus, see your doctor first for confirmation and then take it from there.