White spots on nails or leukonychia are fairly common in children and a cause of much alarm in parents. The first question that pops up in parents’ minds is that is it because of calcium and zinc deficiency and with easy availability of these supplements over the counter, the child is immediately started on these supplements. Every medication or supplement that a person ingests has effects and potential side effects. If we need medications then it is worth risking the side effect.
The most common cause of white spots on nails is a mild to moderate injury to the nail bed when the nail is growing. Now if you don’t remember that your child had an injury consider this: Nails grow very slowly, toenails more slowly than fingernails (about 5-6 mm a month!). It could have been a long time back that there was some trivial trauma to her nails and most probably, neither the child, nor you noticed it. Not very commonly, white spots can also be due to some allergies to locally applied substances like nail polish or local infection. It is only when the white spots occur in almost all nails that it is a cause of worry since there could be an underlying serious disease.
What should I do about these white spots?
Well, give it time! As the nail grows from the base to the tip, the white spots will go away and unless, the child is injured again will not return. It takes about six weeks for the nail to grow from the base to the tip in children. You should see your pediatrician if:
- The white spots persist for more than two months.
- The white spots keep reappearing.
- They occur in many different nails simultaneously.
- The nails and fingers look abnormal like yellowish discoloration or redness etc.