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What are the dry white spots on my client’s toenails?

Q.

One of my clients has dry white spots on her big toenails. She went to the podiatrist and he said she was allergic to nail polish. I would put oil on and buff and the white spots would go away. I have seen this on almost every client at one time or another, especially in the winter. What do you think it is?

A.

I recommend getting a second opinion, since this diagnosis does not make sense. Obviously living skin can develop allergic reactions, but the nail plate is non-living and therefore does not become “allergic.”  If this spot disappears when a nail oil is applied, it may well be caused by a lack of moisture in that part of the nail plate. Applying a nail oil causes moisture to build up underneath and rehydrate the area which alleviates the dry appearance.  Frequently removal of nail polish can cause this type of dryness and it would not be unusual for these dry spots to be more apparent during the wintertime when the air is dryer. — Doug Schoon is chief scientific advisor for CND.

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