Why Do I Have Yellow Toenails?

The visible signs of your toenails being unhealthy are dents, ridges, change of color or abnormal shape. Any sudden changes must be reported to your doctor as your toenails often reflect the state of your overall health. Yellow toenails can sometimes signify a serious health issue. Therefore, you should seek medical attention as soon as you notice any kind of discoloration.

Why Do Toenails Turn Yellow?

There are many reasons that can lead to your toenails turning yellow. Some of them are completely harmless, while others are a sign of great trouble. In most cases, you can tell the difference by the accompanying symptoms.

Additional factors you should watch out for are:

  • Unnatural thickening of the nail. If this happens, your toenail will seem bigger and raised when compared to others.
  • Brittle and crumbling nails.
  • Discoloration that affects all the nails instead of one or two.
  • Pain.

The most common causes of this condition are:

  • Toenail fungus – Fungal infections of the feet are common and can be very troublesome. In the majority of cases, the main reason behind them is poor personal hygiene. When yeast affects your toenails, it can be difficult to treat. Treatments for this condition can include both oral anti-fungal medication and topical solutions. It is also extremely important to change your personal hygiene habits, replace your socks and clean all the footwear you have thoroughly.
  • Diabetes – This condition causes circulation problems and weakens your immune system. This increases the risk of infection. It’s imperative to be extremely careful with your feet’s overall health when you have diabetes. This disorder can make it extremely difficult to heal even a minor wound. It can result in a tiny cut festering and infection spreading throughout your leg. If the situation isn’t addressed immediately, you may lose the appendage. To avoid this, you need to exercise extreme caution, especially when doing pedicures.
  • Yellow nail syndrome – This is a genetic disorder. It is rare and is characterized by thickening and yellow or yellowish-green discolorations of nails and pleural effusions that can compromise your breathing.
  • Lymphedema – This is a type of localized fluid retention disease. It affects circulation and can cause localized swelling.
  • Nail polish – The chemicals in brightly-colored nail polish can affect your nail directly and damage its surface to an extent. This can result in your nails turning yellow after you remove the polish. This isn’t a serious problem and the discoloration will disappear on its own.

How to Get Rid of Yellow Toenails

The treatment for this condition will depend on its actual cause. If it’s nail polish that gives you trouble, your toenails will be back to their natural color after the affected parts grow out. However, the rest of the issues that cause this discoloration aren’t so easy to deal with.

When the discoloration is caused by a fungal infection, the best methods of treatment are:

  • Anti-fungal creams and lotions – This is an absolute must of any treatment program. These solutions may be sufficient to solve your problem completely.
  • Drugs – If topical treatments aren’t effective, the infection responsible for your problem must be deeper and affect your overall health. This problem can be solved by specialized prescription drugs.
  • Surgery – This is the last resort that your doctor will have to use if no other treatment is effective. If the infection is severe, you may lose the function of your toe and have difficulties with walking due to pain. In the majority of cases, removing the affected nail should allow a new one to grow. Note that this is a slow process, so you can expect your new healthy toenail to be in place in a year at best.

Fungal infections are difficult to treat, and usually takes about 6-9 months of repeated application of topical solutions to overcome it completely. Full recovery can take about a year.

When the change in your toenail color is caused by yellow nail syndrome, you will have no choice but to resign yourself to this. The affected nails will remain this way even if you can find a way to control other symptoms of this disorder. You can try specialized nail gels to solve this problem, but they may be ineffective against this particular condition.

However, anti-bacterial nail gels can be most helpful when the discoloration is caused by immunity or circulation disorders. Therefore, people who suffer from AIDS, diabetes, or lymphedema will benefit from using them.

Remember that it takes time for your toenail to turn yellow, so restoring its healthy color will be a slow and difficult process. If the problem is caused by an underlying health condition, you will not be able to solve it unless you can figure out what’s causing it.

Many anti-fungal medications have a wide range of negative side effects. Therefore, it’s essential to consult a doctor about your treatment. You need to inform the medical specialist about any other conditions you have and medications and supplements you take on a regular basis.

How to Prevent Your Toenails From Turning Yellow

Hygiene is the key to preventing this type of problem. Athletes must be especially careful as they are most susceptible to this problem. The following tips should help you avoid an infection:

  • Wear shoes that are made of breathable materials as well as clean socks.
  • Do not walk barefoot in public areas.
  • Try to avoid direct contact with anyone who suffers from a fungal infection.
  • If you currently suffer from a toenail fungal infection, change your socks, bathmats and towels often and clean them thoroughly.
  • Clean your feet at least once a day with a mild anti-bacterial soap.
  • Dry your feet carefully and thoroughly after cleaning.
  • Don’t cut your toenails too short and try to avoid inflicting any physical damage while doing this.