L is for Leukonychia

July 6, 2023

Leukonychia is a name for white discoloration appearing on nails. The name is derived from the Greek words leuko ‘white’ and onyx ‘nail’.

There are a number of causes for leukonychia:

Trauma or injury:
Physical trauma to the nail bed, such as hitting or crushing the nail, can result in leukonychia. The injury can disrupt the growth of the nail, leading to white spots or streaks.

Nutritional deficiencies:
Certain nutritional deficiencies, particularly deficiencies in zinc or protein, can cause leukonychia. Inadequate intake or absorption of these nutrients can affect the normal growth and development of the nails.

Fungal or bacterial infections of the nail can lead to leukonychia. The infection can interfere with the production of keratin, the protein responsible for nail formation, resulting in white discoloration.

Systemic diseases:
Certain systemic conditions or diseases can cause leukonychia as a secondary symptom. These may include liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and anemia.

Medications and treatments:
Some medications, such as certain chemotherapy drugs, can cause leukonychia as a side effect. Additionally, radiation therapy or other treatments that target fast-growing cells can affect nail growth and result in white spots.

Hereditary factors:
In some cases, leukonychia can be inherited or associated with genetic disorders. Conditions like leukonychia totalis and partialis, for example, are rare genetic disorders characterized by complete or partial whitening of the nails.


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