Healthy fingernails are an essential indicator of overall health and well-being. They protect the fingers and toes, aid in gripping and grasping objects, and are a visual aspect of personal appearance. However, discoloration of the fingernail bed can be unsightly and may indicate an underlying health problem.
A variety of factors, including fungal infections, injury, and certain medical conditions can cause discoloration of the fingernail bed. Fungal infections such as onychomycosis can cause the nails to turn yellow, thickened, and brittle. Discoloration can also occur as a result of an injury to the nail bed, such as a bruise or a hematoma.
Certain medical conditions, such as anemia, diabetes, and lung disease, can also cause discoloration of the nails. Additionally, using certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, can also lead to discoloration of the nails.
In this article, we will discuss these issues and how to prevent white discoloration on the nails.
Causes of White Fingernail Beds
1. Fungal infection
Fungal infections such as onychomycosis are a common cause of discoloration of the fingernail bed. Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that affects the nails of the fingers and toes. It can cause the nails to turn yellow, thickened, and brittle, and sometimes the nails may even separate from the nail bed.
The fungal infection can be caused by a variety of fungi, including dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds. Onychomycosis is more common in toenails than in fingernails, and it is more common in people who have diabetes, a weakened immune system, or who have a history of athlete’s foot.
2. Use of certain medications
Another cause of discoloration of the fingernail bed is the use of certain medications. Some medications can lead to discoloration of the nails as a side effect. For example, certain chemotherapy drugs can cause the nails to become discolored and brittle. Similarly, some antibiotics and blood pressure medications can also cause discoloration of the nails.
3. Exposure to certain chemicals
One of the most common causes is the use of nail polish and other chemicals. When nail polish is left on for an extended period of time, it can cause the nails to become discolored and brittle. Similarly, exposure to harsh chemicals, such as cleaning solutions and solvents, can also cause discoloration of the nails.
Another common cause of white discoloration of the fingernail bed is a condition known as leukonychia. This condition is characterized by white spots or lines on the nails and can be caused by injury to the nail matrix, the area where the nails are formed. Leukonychia can also be caused by a deficiency in certain nutrients, such as zinc and iron, or by a reaction to certain medications.
White discoloration can also be a symptom of certain medical conditions. For example, anemia, a condition with a lack of iron in the blood, can cause the nails to become pale or white. Similarly, lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung cancer can also cause the nails to discolor.
Chronic kidney disease, heart disease, and diabetes can also cause white discoloration of the nails. This is because these conditions can affect the blood flow to the nails and cause a decrease in the oxygen level of the nails.
Prevention of Fingernails Discoloration
Preventing discoloration of the fingernail bed can be achieved through proper care and maintenance of the nails. Here are some tips for avoiding exposure to chemicals and other substances that can lead to discoloration:
- Wear gloves when working with cleaning solutions or other chemicals to protect your nails from harsh chemicals.
- Avoid biting or picking at your nails, as this can lead to discoloration and damage to the nails.
- Keep your nails dry and clean to prevent fungal infections.
- Avoid using nail polish and other chemicals on your nails for extended periods.
- Avoid using acrylic nails or gels that are not removed properly; this can cause discoloration of the nails.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains to provide your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals to maintain healthy nails.
- Consume enough Iron and Zinc; both important nutrients for the growth and health of nails.
- Drink enough water to keep your nails and skin hydrated.
- Manicure your nails regularly and use moisturizer to keep the cuticles and surrounding skin soft and healthy.
- Keep your nails trimmed and filed to prevent breakage.
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as these habits can harm your overall health and lead to discoloration of the nails.
How to Treat Discoloration of Fingernail Bed
1. Fungal infections
If a fungal infection causes the discoloration, antifungal medications can be used to treat the infection. These may include topical creams, oral medications, or a combination. It is important to note that treatment may take several months, and it’s important to finish the full course of treatment to prevent the recurrence of the infection.
If an injury causes the discoloration to the nail bed, it will typically resolve on its own with time. However, if the discoloration is severe, it may require medical treatment.
3. Medical conditions
If an underlying medical condition causes discoloration, treatment will typically focus on managing the underlying condition. For example, if anemia is the cause, iron supplements may be prescribed.
4. Nail polish
For discoloration caused by nail polish or other chemicals, buffing or filing the nails can help remove the discolored surface and restore the nails’ natural color.
Various over-the-counter products are available that claim to restore the natural color of the fingernail bed, such as whitening pens or creams. However, their effectiveness may vary, and it’s important to read the instructions carefully and follow them.
DIY Home Remedies
1. Lemon Juice
The acidity of lemon juice can help lighten the discoloration of the nails. You can mix lemon juice with equal water and soak your nails in the solution for 10-15 minutes.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has natural antifungal properties. It can also help restore the natural color of the nails. You can mix equal parts Apple Cider Vinegar and water and soak your nails in the solution for 10-15 minutes.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has moisturizing properties; it can help nourish and strengthen the nails. You can massage coconut oil into your nails and cuticles and leave it on overnight.
4. Baking Soda
Baking soda can help to exfoliate the nails and remove discoloration; you can mix baking soda with water to form a paste and gently scrub your nails with it.
5. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antifungal properties and can help treat fungal infections of the nails. You can mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and massage it into the nails.
Various factors, including fungal infections, injury, and certain medical conditions, can cause discoloration of the fingernail bed. Prevention is key; keeping the nails clean and dry, avoiding harsh chemicals, and wearing gloves when working with cleaning solutions or other chemicals can help prevent discoloration. Maintaining healthy nails through proper nutrition and overall care of your body can also help prevent discoloration.
Various treatment options are available for discoloration of the fingernail bed, such as antifungal medications, buffing or filing the nails, or over-the-counter products. Home remedies, such as lemon juice, coconut oil, or apple cider vinegar, can also help restore the nails’ natural color. However, their effectiveness may vary.
It’s important to note that if the discoloration of the nails is severe or persistent, or if you have other symptoms such as pain or swelling, it is recommended to visit a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions and determine the best course of treatment.