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Leuconychia

Leuconychia (white nails) is seen in hypoalbuminaemia. A striate congenital leuconychia exists. The term is taken from the Greek term Leuko that means white and the term Onyx, that means nails.

Leuconychia also called White spots (also called gift spots), streaks or bands on the nail plate due to imperfect keratinization. Nail become abnormal in color. Air bubbles can cause leukonychia and damage to the nailbed can also lead to the development of white spots.

Symptoms of Leukonychia

  • White spots or streaks appearing on the surface of the nails
  • Different pigmentation is seen in some leukonychias; minor nail matrix, cuticle trauma or half and half nails with white color proximal and pink or red distal.

Causes of Leuconychia

  • Local trauma or injury to the base part of the nail. The base part of the nail is the part from where the nail starts. In medical terms it is called as the matrix region.
  • Systematic Disease
  • Psychogenic stresses
  • Vitamin deficiency can cause a loss of luster or brittle nails
  • Disturbed Nutrition
  • arsenic poisoning
  • renal failure
  • heart disease
  • Onychophagia, ulcers in colitis and hepatic cirrhosis are other reasons for the appearance of white spots on nail.

This condition may be hereditary and no treatment is required as the spots will grow out with the nail plate. Food like green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts and should be consumed in daily life for the deficiency of zinc, which attributed to appearance of white spots.

Types of Leuconychia

  • Leukonychia totalis - This condition is a whitening of the entire nail. This may be due to hypoalbuminaemia.
  • Leukonychia partialis - This condition is whitening of parts of the nail.
  • Leukonychia striata or transverse leukonychia - There is a similar condition called Muehrcke's lines which differs from leukonychia in that the lines run parallel the lunula (nail base) across the entire nail bed and occur in more than one nail. It is a whitening or discoloration of the nail in bands or "stria".
  • Leukonychia punctata - Also known as "true" leukonychia, this is the most common form of leukonychia, in which small white spots appear on the nails. Picking and biting of the nails are a prominent cause in young children and nailbiters.
  • Pseudo Leukonychia - This disease appears when there is a discoloration in the nail due to change of the nail bed. There are three different types of pseudo Leukonychia Terry’s nails, Muehrcke’s nails and half and half nails.

Treatment of Leuconychia

Cosmetically, it is advisable to soften the cuticles first with warm water before the use of coloured nail polish.

Hitting your nails on hard objects or surfaces can cause damage to the matrix (the nail root), which may lead to the leukonychia nail disease.

If the condition persists or its cause is inexplicable, consider to be evaluated by a dermatologist or health care professional.

For brittle nails, keep the nails short and avoid nail polish. Use an emollient (skin softening) cream after washing or bathing.

Don't bite your fingernails, cut off cuticles or scrape your nails. Also, try to avoid artificial nails. Artificial nails can cause damage to your natural nails underneath, which may lead to leukonychia.

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