Why Are My Toenails Yellow?

Your nails can be long or short, thin or thick, but they always tell a lot about your overall health. Simply by having a closer look at the thickness, texture, and color of your nail can tell a lot about your health. However, you sometimes notice a change in nails because of common infections. Fungal infections may cause your nails to turn yellow. There are other reasons as well.

Why Are My Toenails Yellow?

There are a number of reasons why you end up developing yellow toenails. Here are some of the most common reasons.

1. Fungal Infection

A fungal infection is the most common reason of why your toenails are yellow. Certain types of non-dermatophytic molds and yeasts can also cause imperfect nails. It is easy to develop a fungal infection due to the structure of toenails. Your nails have many different parts, with the uppermost part called the nail plate. Below this part is the nail bed. The half-moon shaped part of your nail is called the lunula or the distal matrix.

There is a tissue right at the top of the matrix and it is called the cuticle. The nails are made of keratin, but the cells of your nail die after they complete their lifecycle. Dead cells, made of keratin, are a perfect food source for fungus, and when the conditions are right, it grows quickly, making your nails look yellow.

2. Aging

Why are my toenails yellow? It could be because you are growing old. Cell turnover and blood circulation will become slow as you age. Your nails will look yellow and become weak and brittle.

3. Lymphedema

Caused by a blockage in your lymphatic system, lymphedema keeps lymph fluid from draining, which in turn will cause swelling usually in your arm or leg. The affected limb will become more susceptible to becoming infected. This may also provide fungus a suitable environment to grow and change the color of your nails.

4. Diabetes

Why are my toenails yellow? It could be because you have diabetes. Glucose will attach to collagen proteins when there is an imbalance in blood sugar. This will make your nails look yellow.

5. Genetics

If your doctor believes your yellow nails are not due to a fungal infection, this could be due to a genetic condition called yellow nail syndrome. In this case, your nails will be yellow in color and have others issues as well. They will lack a cuticle, grow very slowly, and become detached from the nail bed.

How to Get Rid of Yellow Toenails

Now that you have the answer to your question, "Why are my toenails yellow?" it is time to learn some ways to fix the issue. Here are some treatment options to fix your yellow toenails.

1. Buffing the Top Layer

You nails look yellow because the top layer is infected or stained. You can consider buffing the top layer using a light sandpaper to remove those stains. It is not a long-term treatment though because regular buffing will weaken your nails.

2. Cleaning Yellow Toenails

As yellow toenails are usually caused by a fungal infection, you need to pay attention to keeping your toenails clean to prevent and clear an infection. Fungus needs humid environments to survive. Fungal infections will cause several other symptoms as well such as brittle, thicker nails, and flaking. You may want to use antifungal creams if you have a mild fungal infection. These creams usually work when your nails are not chipping. Nonyx Nail Gel and Mycocide NS are two effect OTC creams to clear the infection.

3. Vinegar Bath

Make a mixture by adding a part of vinegar to 3 parts of water. Put your feet in the mixture and soak for about 5 minutes. Do it at least once a day to reduce pH in your toes.

4. Lemon Juice

A simple way to get rid of yellow toenails is to soak your nails in lemon juice. Simply soak for about 15 minutes every day until you get desired results.

5. Whitening Toothpaste

Pink stains caused by red nail polish respond very well to whitening toothpaste. Scrub it on your nails using a nailbrush to get rid of immediate stains.

6. Homemade Anti-Fungal Spread

Take a small bowl and add 2 ½ tablespoon of baking soda in it. Now, add a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to this mixture and apply it on your toenails using a cotton ball. Leave it for five minutes and then rinse.

How to Prevent Yellow Toenails

You should take steps to avoid having yellow toenails in the first place. Here is what you can do:

  • Be sure to wear clean socks, as sweaty socks are loved by fungus.
  • Wear shoes made of breathable materials.
  • Do not walk barefoot in areas that are damp or public.
  • Avoid coming into contact with someone having a fungal infection.
  • Do not share bathmats, towels, and clothes with someone who has a fungal infection.
  • Wash your feet daily and dry them well before wearing socks or shoes.
  • Always maintain proper toenail and foot hygiene.
  • Do not cut your nails too short.

Things to Ask Your Podiatrist

If you have already developed yellow toenails, you may want to go see your doctor. Be sure to ask them a few important questions. For instance:

  • Why are my toenails yellow?
  • If it is a fungal infection, what type of fungus is responsible for this?
  • How long should I wait before continuing with swimming or participating in team sports?
  • Are there any additional symptoms I should keep an eye on?
  • What should I do to ensure that no one in my family gets the infection?
  • What types of OTC products should I use?
 
 
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