White spots on the nails

Our nails are mainly made of keratin, and although the keratin could be found in our skin and hair, nails are much firmer because they contain less water. Because of this, nails are ideal protectors of blood vessels, nerves and bones that are below them. Many doctors won’t pay attention to unusual nail color but some of them find this very important and as a sign of various health disorders. The author of ‘Body Signs’, doctor Joan Liebmann-Smith, explained some of the signs that your nails are giving you. For example, if your nail is half brown half white it can indicate kidney disease, while the two narrow horizontal stripes on one or more nails could mean that there is an inflammatory reaction in your body.

Nails of a healthy adult grow steadily, although slowly, about 0.3 cm per month. To grow a completely new fingernail it is required four to six months. To grow a new toenail, it is required eight to twelve months. White spots on your nails doesn’t always indicate a health disease. They may appear as a sign of minor injuries of the nail, which eventually disappear spontaneously. White spots on the nails may also appear due to onycholysis. Onycholysis is a disorder in which a nail is separated from the meat spontaneously. This is well known to those who’ve been hit with a hammer or door, the nail will probably fall off eventually.

White Spots

In some cases white spots should be taken very seriously. These white markings may indicate, for example, warts and fungus (onychomycosis) on the nail, or skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, which can affect nails. White spots on the the nails may be one of the few signs of systemic disease sarcoidosis, which affects the skin, lungs and other organs. When the nail is soft and has white specks, it is a condition known as Plummer nail, which may indicate hyperthyroidism.

The emergence of horizontal white lines over the entire nail plate may indicate a wide range of serious systemic diseases that can damage the nail, such as cardiac arrest, Hodgkin's disease, malaria, and even plague. White stripes are also a typical sign of poisoning by arsenic or thallium. 

White lines often appear only on one nail so they will disappear once the nail grows or if the underlying cause is successfully treated. The sign on the nail may be of great help to determine when the disease (or food poisoning) occurred. The lower line on the nail means that disease appeared recently.

If you notice two white horizontal narrow stripes on one or more nails, you have sign of a Muehrcke's lines. These lines are actually embedded in the nail bed (the hard tissue under the nail), and does not move or disappear when the nail grows. Muehrcke's lines are a normal sign of hypoalbuminemia, decreased levels of the protein albumin in the blood. This disorder and those lines may cause a number of acute and chronic medical conditions, such as, kidney disease, liver cirrhosis, heart failure and irregular diet. However, in most cases, lines appear as the inflammatory response to infection or injury.
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