What Causes White Spots on Toenails and How Can You Treat Them Quickly?

Have you ever noticed any white or slightly yellowish spots on your toenails?

If the answer is yes, there’s no need to worry.  One, you’re not alone. Two, it is not a serious disease.

Everyone encounters this condition at some point in their lives. Still, it’s important to know how to prevent and remove white spots on your toenails. 

Generally, white spots or lines are often caused by trauma, banging your toe, dropping something on your toe, or kicking something. People get these spots quite frequently and very easily. At the same time, treating the problem with home remedies is not difficult at all.

What Causes White Spots on Toenails?

White spots on toenails have a small semi-circular shape. In medical terms, it is called leukonychia.

These white spots commonly appear on the cuticle, the outermost layer of skin located at the base of the toenail.

They slowly move outwards as the nails grow. You can always cut your nails to remove the spots, but if there’s an underlying cause, they will reappear at the bottom of the nail.

White spots indicate that the tissues producing new nail cells are either damaged or not getting enough nutrients. Let’s take a look at the major causes and treatment options.

As mentioned earlier, white spots on toenails are quite common and can be easily avoided. Thus, it is necessary to know the causes. There are several, but here are the most common:

  • Fungal infection due to nail polish or bad hygiene. Nail fungus can grow when the nail doesn’t get enough oxygen because it is always covered by polish, or when the feet are constantly sweaty.
  • Any injury to the nails or damage to the nail matrix. Fungus can also enter the nail through an injury. To minimize damage, cut nails short.
  • Wearing tight-fitting footwear. Like nail polish, tight shoes can prevent the nails from getting air and therefore promote fungal growth. White spots appear on toenails when microbes make their way under the nail.
  • Lack of calcium or zinc in the body. In this case, you may need to take supplements. Talk to your doctor to determine the best options for you.
  • An unbalanced diet. Nutritional deficiencies can cause white spots to appear on the toenails. Make sure your daily meals have all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs.
  • Liver problems such as cirrhosis can manifest as white spots on nails.

Treating White Spots on Toenails

White spots on toenails are completely harmless, even when not treated immediately.

However, if you have too many of them, there may be an underlying health issue, and you’ll have to take proactive measures. Let’s learn how to manage these white spots:

1. White Vinegar

photo by: Mike Mozart

White vinegar is a natural home remedy that’s also the easiest and fastest way to get rid of those ugly-looking dots. 

  • Mix two parts vinegar and one part water in a tub or basin. 
  • Soak your toes in the solution for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Repeat the process at least twice a day. Continue the remedy until the spots disappear.
  • You can reuse the same vinegar solution two to three times.

2. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is the next most effective solution to combat white spots due to its antifungal and stain removal properties.

  • Soak a cotton ball with tea tree oil. There’s no need to dilute it with water or any other oil, but it’s important to use 100 percent pure tea tree oil manufactured by a reputable brand.
  • Secure the cotton ball with a bandage and wait about 45 minutes to let the tea tree oil seep into the nail.
  • Remove the cotton ball and gently massage the affected area for a few minutes.
  • Wash and clean the toes well and dry with a clean towel.
  • Repeat the process for 8-10 days to see results.

3. Ointment

Ointment is a strong treatment that can eliminate the fungus causing white spots. Many over-the-counter ointments are easily available for purchase at an affordable price. If you’re not sure which one to use, ask your doctor for a prescription. 

4. Proper Diet

The majority of white spots on toenails are due to poor nutrition. Deficiencies can be corrected with a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and zinc. If you do have severe deficiencies, please consult your doctor.

5. Antifungal Spray

If the white spots keep coming back, then it is likely that you have some type of fungal infection. A good antifungal spray can do the trick in preventing the growth of fungi spores. You can try Antifungal Soap with Tea Tree Oil or ask your doctor for a recommendation.

6. Other Alternatives​

Apple cider vinegar and baking soda, which can be found in almost every kitchen, are effective in preventing and treating white spots on toenails as well.

Simply apply either of them on the affected toenails with a cotton ball and they will do their job.

Remember, apple cider vinegar and baking soda are to be applied separately. Do not mix them; you will not get double the effect. For visible results, apply either one of them twice a day for 8-10 days.

Preventing White Spots on Toenails

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here are some ways to avoid getting unsightly spots on your nails:

  • Keep your nails short and your feet clean and dry to avoid injury and infection.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly and change your socks every day.
  • Eat a healthy diet composed of fruits, vegetables, and foods that are rich in calcium and zinc. Take multivitamins if necessary.

Your Turn

White spots on toenails affect people regardless of age, sex, and geographic location.

Women should not try to cover these spots with nail polish as doing so will not solve the problem. Instead, focus on eradicating the cause.

While white spots on toenails can be easily treated at home, they may be an indication of other more serious health issues.

So don’t avoid going to a doctor if it’s necessary; a physician is the best person to diagnose and treat any underlying problems.