White spots on nails or general white discoloration could mean a few different things, but the underlying theme is that your body is sick and is trying to let you know. Some diseases and conditions have symptoms in the fingernails. It's important to see a doctor because any change in the fingernails should be diagnosed.
Nails that have white spots are generally a sign of leukonychia. The main cause of this condition is an injury to the base of the nail, called the matrix region. These spots could also look streaky.
Other causes of leukonychia could be allergic reactions to nail hardeners, acrylic nail glue or nail enamels. This condition can also be picked up in a nail salon or locker room, where yeast and bacteria are bountiful.
If detected early, leukonychia can be treated with creams and pills. In some cases, the white spots and streaks will grow out with the nail.
White spots or streaks are common with a deficiency in zinc. This can be easily reversed with a change of diet that includes leafy green vegetables like spinach, meat, nuts and whole grains.
One of the more serious causes of white finger nails is liver disease; in many cases, hepatitis or cirrhosis is an issue.
Nails that have become partially white and pink is a symptom of kidney disease. Chronic renal failure also turns the nails partially white.
Pale or white nail beds point to anemia, which is usually also a sign of iron deficiency. In some cases, a person may have an abnormally shaped fingernail, called koilonychia. The nail has raised ridges, is thin and curves inward. This condition is associated with iron-deficiency anemia. Iron can be worked back into the diet with a supplement, cooking in iron pots and pans and eating meat and leafy greens. For optimal iron absorption, don't consume iron-rich foods with calcium, such as dairy.