Having yellow toenails and fingernails is an embarrassing condition that can stem from both environmental factors and serious health conditions.
Yellow nails can be both on the hands and on the feet. In addition to a discoloration that is yellowish or orange in nature, yellow toenails and fingernails will usually be accompanied by a thickening of the nail, cracking, chipping and brittleness. These symptoms may appear on one nail, but oftentimes they appear on many or all of the nails.
Common causes of yellow nails include smoking, aging, and stains created by nail polish. However, most cases of yellow nails stem from more serious causes like fungal infections, diabetes, thyroid issues, lymphedema, psoriasis or the very rare condition called Yellow Nail Syndrome.
Treatment of yellow nails depends on the specific cause of the discoloration. Yellowing caused by nail polish, smoking and other outside factors can usually be lightened with household items like lemons, whitening toothpaste, hydrogen peroxide and denture tablets. Yellowing caused by a fungal infection will most likely need to be treated with an antifungal medication, either prescription strength or over-the-counter, depending on the severity of the infection.
If you believe your nail discoloration stems from a disease like diabetes, lymphedema, psoriasis or thyroid issues, it’s best to talk with your doctor about the different treatment options available to you. Treatment of the underlying issue will take precedence and a health care provider can then help you figure out the safest way to tackle your nail discoloration in conjunction with the medications and treatments of the disease causing the condition.
Regardless of the type, there are many ways you can prevent yellow toenails. They include making sure to keep your feet clean and dry at all times, keeping your socks and footwear clean and dry, wearing protective footwear in damp places like locker rooms, gyms and swimming areas, keeping your nails properly trimmed straight across, using formaldehyde-free nail polishes and always using a clear base coat before applying nail lacquer.
It is extremely important to have any nail changes examined by a podiatrist or health care professional. Discoloration of the nail can be a sign of a serious health condition and fungal infections are easier to treat and less likely to become recurrent when caught early on.