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White Lines On Toenails: Causes, Prevention And Treatments

Last Updated on June 25, 2022
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written by nail expert Jess Rowley

Topics we've covered

White Marks On Toenails: Causes And How To Get Rid Of Them

Just taken off the polish from your last pedicure and noticed white patches on your toenails and wondered what they are and what causes them?

Well let me tell you, you’re not alone.

These white lines are actually referred to as leuconychia and they are usually nothing to worry about, they can be often caused by dehydrated nails.

It is actually more common than you may think, it happens to most of us, and most of the time it is nothing serious or anything you need to worry about.


The most common cause of leukonychia is the injury to the nail bed, which can occur when you knock your nail, it can also be caused by frequent pedicures and even manicures with gel or acrylic.

In this guide, I am going to give you the full rundown so you won’t be confused about this issue again.

Let’s jump in!

toes witj polish

So what exactly are white spots on your toenails?

White spots, also known as Leukonychia are a condition in which white lines appear on your fingernails or toenails– they are entirely harmless and most of us have them.

There can either be freckle-like white dots across the nail or some can be quite large and go across the whole nail, it can either affect one nail or a few at once.

It is often caused by injury to the nail bed, whether you have caught your nail, stubbed your toe, or have had prolonged exposure to acrylic and gel nails.

There are many other causes too such as nail fungus or a vitamin deficiency in Vitamin D, Zinc, or Calcium.

It can be more serious but it is very unlikely, if you are worried go and have a check-up with your local doctor to put your mind at ease.

What causes Leukonychia? 

White specks on your toenails are actually very common and can be caused by the most simple things such as:

– An allergic reaction

– Nail injury or trauma

– A fungal infection or nail fungus

– A mineral deficiency

So let’s break it down:

Allergic reaction:

Whether you’re allergic to your nail polish, base coast, topcoat, hardener, or even nail polish remover it can actually cause these white spots on your nails.

This allergic reaction may have damaged the keratin in your nail causing the white specks.

If you’re an acrylic lover and regularly have acrylic pedicures or manicures this may be also the reason for these white spots as acrylic and gel can be quite damaging after prolonged use.

Nail injury or trauma

Now, this is probably the most common cause of leukonychia or white spots on your toenails. If you have noticed this on your toenails a few weeks after stubbing your toe then that is most definitely the cause.

Or even dropping something fairly light on your toe can cause these white spots on your nails.

Frequent pedicures can also cause damage and cause white spots on your nails through the pressure applied by pedicurists. Plus if you have acrylic or gel, this can also put your nail through trauma.

Fungal infection: 

Now there is a lot of causes for fungal infections and it can be shown in different shapes and forms, from discoloration to white or brown spots.

The fungus that shows white dots on the toenail is also known as onychomycosis, it may eventually the nail flakey then thick and brittle if left alone.

So if you think it’s a fungal infection I would recommend fungal treatment as soon as possible!

Here’s one that I would recommend using: Kerasal Fungal Nail Renewal

 Mineral deficiency

This is the last common cause of leukonychia, if you don’t get enough zinc or calcium in your diet you may see these white spots appear more frequently.

I would recommend trying these multivitamins to help cure and prevent these spots from returning from Nature made.

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Can Leukonychia be serious? 

Although it is very rare in some cases it could indicate an underlying health condition. This could include heart disease, bad health, eczema, pneumonia, kidney failure, and even arsenic poisoning. 

Although these white specs can appear because of these causes they are very rare. If you are worried or if these white spots keep appearing, despite considering the factors before it may be best just to see the doctor.

These causes are very unlikely though. 

How to treat white spots on toenails: 

The best treatment will be determined by the cause of these white spots:

Allergic reaction: 

If you think you are having an allergic reaction I would recommend going through the products you have used in the past month or so on your nails and rule out the one that may be irritating or damaging the nail.

Once you have ruled out which one is causing the issue, stop using that product and it should start to fade. It may not completely go away until the nail has grown out fully. 

If the allergic reaction continues then go consult and seek medical advice from your doctor, they may be able to prescribe something to help.

Nail injury or trauma: 

For this one, it is all about patience. The white spot will go away with time and once your nail has fully grown out you will forget it was even there. 

If the nail is sore or tender apply ice and take pain medication to help and if this continues go and see a doctor. Usually, white spots are very mild and don’t usually hurt. 

If you have noticed after prolonged pedicures that your toes have come up in these white spots, I would advise taking a break from getting your nails done while nourishing your nail with cuticle oil and nail strengthener until the nail improves. 

You can also help repair and strengthen the nail using keratin treatments or nail polishes rich in keratin to nourish and strengthen the toenail and inevitably prevent nail damage. 

Fungal infection:

If the fungal infection is fairly minor, you can find a fungal treatment off Amazon which will help cure and restore the toenail to its former glory. 

If it is slightly more severe then a doctor will prescribe a topical fungal treatment to use for 2-3 months to treat the infection. 

How long does it take for white spots to go?

This all depends on the cause of these spots. Injuries and trauma can actually take up to 3 months to clear and grow out. If the injury is quite severe and the toenail ends up falling off this can take around a year to grow back.

If it’s an underlying health condition, your doctor will advise how long it may take for these marks to disappear. However, in most cases, it is fairly normal and will grow out when your nail does and there’s no need to worry. 

How can you prevent white spots on nails?

The best way to prevent leukonychia is to keep a balanced and healthy diet, take multivitamins regularly and make sure your toes are protected and comfortable in your footwear.

Applying cuticle oil and nail strengthens, infused with keratin can really help to strengthen and nourish your nails. Also, make sure you don’t wear your nail polish for too long and allow for your nails to breathe before applying more nail polish.

Take a break from acrylic and gel from time to time to restore your toenails and prevent damage.


White spots or leukonychia are actually very common and the majority of people will have had it in their lives, its important to regularly be looking after our nails and checking to see if there is any cause for concern.

Just implementing a more balanced diet and taking vitamins on a daily will transform the health of your nails as a whole. Also, make sure you wear appropriate footwear and nourish your nails and then this shouldn’t be an issue!

If you haven’t damaged your nails or don’t think it’s caused by common causes then I would recommend checking in with your doctor for some medical advice and treatments. 

Let’s restore our pretty tootsies to the former glory they deserve! 

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