The White Specks On Your Nails Are Warning You About 11 Potential Health Problems

I remember being told as a child that white spots on my nails meant I wasn’t drinking enough milk (Anyone else? I can’t be alone in this). While calcium levels can be related to those odd spots, there are many other things that can cause them. If you’re concerned about this recurring sign, this is what you need to know.

First of all, white nail spots aren’t a concern if you recently injured your nail or nail bed. Whether you jammed your finger in a door or dropped something on your toe, you shouldn’t have to worry about a single occurrence of white discoloration. However, should you notice that these white spots won’t go away, are growing, or keep coming back, it could be a sign of something serious.

Rule These Out First

Fungal Infection

These are actually much more common than people think, affecting around 10% of adults at one point in their life. Signs of a fungal infection include a spreading discolored area and thickened nails. The white spots usually occur near the cuticle or near tip of the nail, and often cause the nail to split eventually.

Zinc Deficiency

This is a greater risk for diabetics, vegetarians, and people with liver or kidney diseases. Symptoms can include lack of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, and poor immune system. Find out how to increase your zinc intake here.

Calcium Deficiency

Middle aged women have a special need for extra calcium. This mineral is stored in bones, which become less dense with age, and especially during and after menopause. If you aren’t increasing your calcium intake as you get older, it’s likely your body requires more than you’re giving it. You can also look out for symptoms such as memory loss, muscle spasms, depressed mood, and numbness.

Vitamin C Deficiency

This is a concern especially for diabetics, people with frequent diarrhea, sufferers of anorexia, and the elderly. It is nearly without symptoms (except in extreme cases like scurvy), so it’s important to consult your doctor or nutritionist to ensure you’re getting adequate levels of Vitamin C in your diet.


Pellagra is a term for having a deficiency in Vitamin B3 or tryptophan (an amino acid). Symptoms of these deficiencies include diarrhea, nausea, scaly patches on the skin, confusion, and inflamed mucus membranes (such as in your nasal passage).

Common allergens are beauty products like nail polish, polish remover, hand lotions, and hand soaps. Allergic reactions can take a long time to develop, even years, but they can also show symptoms within hours of exposure. During this time, many people end up exposing themselves to an allergen without realizing it.

More Causes of White Nail Spots

Cirrhosis (Scarring of Liver Tissue)

When your liver is damaged, it develops scar tissue as it repairs itself. (One of the reasons liver detoxes are important). In addition to white nail spots, other symptoms of a damaged liver include fatigue, weight loss, nausea, itchy skin, jaundice, nosebleeds, easy bruising, and swelling in your feet and ankles.


Trichinosis is a disease caused by a roundworm ingested in meat that was not properly cooked. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fatigue, and nausea. If left untreated, these can progress to muscle pain, headaches, weakness, and noticeable swelling of the face.

Addison’s Disease

This is a chronic disease caused by the failure of the adrenal glands to produce certain hormones that allow the body to fight inflammation, make blood sugar, and regulate water and salt levels. Unfortunately, most people experience symptoms after a long time of living with adrenal failure. These symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, darkened skin, low blood pressure, nausea, cravings for salty food, and muscle pain.


Even though it’s usually only found in Asian and African tropics, it is highly contagious, and can be spread by travelers. Furthermore, symptoms develop slowly, and can go unnoticed for years on end. They include numbness, flat and pale patches on the skin, dry eyes. Eventually, if leprosy is not treated, it can lead to the loss of fingers and toes, and the loss of feeling almost altogether.

Hodgkin Disease (aka Hodgkin Lymphoma)

Hodgkin’s is a type of cancer that attacks the white blood cells (affecting your immune system). Its symptoms include swelling of lymph nodes, fatigue, loss of appetite, dramatic weight loss, and night sweats.

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