What are the most common causes of white nails?

White nails are a relatively common problem and can have a variety of causes. Fungal infections are perhaps the most common cause of this discoloration, although physical trauma or the use of certain chemicals can also contribute to its development. Kidney failure, liver dysfunction, and chemotherapy have also been known to turn toenails partially or completely white. A doctor should be consulted whenever white nails appear so that an accurate diagnosis can be made and an individualized treatment plan can be developed.

Onychomycosis is a medical term used to describe a fungal infection that affects the nails. When white nails are the result of this type of infection, the discoloration usually appears as streaks on the nail, especially on the sides. Additional symptoms of onychomycosis may include thickening or crumbling of the affected nail or a loosening of the nail from the surrounding skin.

Physical trauma is another common cause of the appearance of white nails. Nail trauma can occur as a result of accidental injury, such as dropping something on the affected toe or using improper pedicure techniques. Toenail damage also increases the chances of developing a fungal infection. In some cases, chemicals present in cosmetics like nail polish or nail polish remover can also cause nail discoloration.

Kidney failure, liver dysfunction, and some inherited diseases can cause white nails in some people. If there have been no physical injuries and no fungal infection, the supervising physician will often order a series of blood tests to check the function of the body's vital organs. Depending on the situation, the nails may return to their natural color after the underlying medical condition has been successfully treated. In severe cases, dialysis or organ transplant may be required to return the body to a healthy state.

Some medications have been shown to cause white nails, especially chemotherapy drugs used to treat serious medical conditions such as cancer. Certain antibiotics, particularly those in a class of drugs known as sulfonamides, list the development of white fingernails and toenails as a possible side effect. The only way to know for sure what is causing specific cases of white nails is to see a doctor so the proper tests can be ordered and the most appropriate treatment options can be discussed.

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