Yellow isn’t a frightening color — until the hue invades your toenails. Not only is the discoloration embarrassing, having yellow toenails can signify a more serious problem, like a fungal infection, diabetes, or even psoriasis. More often than not, however, yellow nails are caused by either smoking or wearing dark nail polish without first applying a base coat.
In order to help fade the yellow color out of your nails, first determine what's probably causing your nail discoloration and then follow the appropriate steps below.
How to Lighten Yellow Nails Caused by Polish or Smoking
Nail polish is used to make your fingernails and toenails look better, but it has the ability to turn your nails yellow over time. Not only does the dye stain your nails, many polishes contain formaldehyde, a chemical that can react with the keratin in your nails and create a yellow hue. Meanwhile, the tar and nicotine found in cigarettes can stain your nails, giving them a yellow color. If either of these causes seems to be the culprit for your yellow nails, you can give the following at-home treatments a try. (Note: You may need to try each method for several days before you see results.)
The acidic nature of real lemon juice makes it a natural bleaching agent. Take a slice of lemon and either squeeze the juice directly on the nails or rub the lemon slice on the affected nails. Wait about 10 minutes and then rinse. Finish by coating the nails and surrounding skin with a good quality lotion or cream to prevent irritation and dryness from the lemon.
Mix one part hydrogen peroxide to three parts water and soak the yellow nails in this solution for 10 to 15 minutes. Finish by coating the nails and surrounding skin with a good quality lotion or cream, as peroxide has a tendency to be quite drying.
In addition to removing stains from your teeth, whitening toothpaste also has the ability to lighten stains on your nails. Apply a small amount on each yellow nail, allow the paste to sit for a few minutes and then rinse off.
Similar to whitening toothpaste, denture tablets can also help lighten yellow nails. Simply dissolve the tablets in water, soak the affected nails in the solution for a few minutes and rinse.
It will take a couple of weeks to see results, but rubbing an orange peel on your toes two or three times daily can lighten yellow toenails. You can also use dried orange peel mixed with water to form a paste that you scrub onto your nails, leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse. The vitamin C in the peel helps remove the stains.
How to Get Rid Of Yellow Toenails Caused by Fungus
Yellowing of the nails caused by a fungal infection is actually due to nail damage rather than staining, making it a bit more difficult to get rid of than yellowing caused by polish or smoking. Nails are unable to repair themselves because they’re not made out of living cells. Therefore, most treatments to help get rid of yellow nails caused by fungus are aimed at fixing or curing the cause of the discoloration which will then result in a healthy nail growing back in.
If you suspect you have a fungal infection of the nail, known as onychomycosis, there are several at-home remedies you can try to help clear up the infection, including using apple cider vinegar, garlic, Vicks VapoRub and Listerine. We have a complete list of ways to treat a fungal infections of the nail on your own. Once the infection clears, your nails should begin to regrow in their original, healthy color.