Have you ever said ‘forget it’ to wearing flip-flops because of yellow toenails? Yellow toenails can be your body hinting at a fungal infection or underlying health condition. Keep reading to understand the causes—and prevention—of yellow toenails.
Why Are My Toenails Yellow?
Yellow toenails aren’t always a big deal, but just to be safe—here are the leading causes:
#1: Yellow Nail Syndrome
Named for the symptom, yellow nail syndrome is one of the more serious (but rarer) causes of yellow toenails. It isn’t just about nails: This condition is more closely related to respiratory disorders and lymphedema (swelling and fluid buildup). This condition causes pale yellow and green discoloration, severe thickening of the nail, inhibited nail growth, and separation between the nail and nail bed. Treatment includes targeting the conditions of causation. Yellow toenail syndrome isn’t a cause of toenail fungus, but it can cause a greater risk.
#2: Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is the most common cause of yellowing toenails. Here’s where it comes from:
- A break in the skin close to/under the toenail from ill-fitting shoes;
- Walking barefoot in warm, damp areas (locker rooms, pool decks, public showers, etc.);
- Athlete’s foot.
Unfortunately, toenail fungus isn’t often cured by over-the-counter medicine. It can take multiple months of taking prescription medications to clear up toenail fungus. The two most common fungal subtypes are distal subungual onychomycosis (the most common type) and candida yeast infection. If you suspect toenail fungus, seek medical attention.
#3: Nail Psoriasis
If you have plaque psoriasis, you may be one of ~90% of patients who get nail psoriasis. If you receive systemic psoriasis treatment and your nail psoriasis persists, consult with your dermatologist.
#4: Ram’s Horns
Also known as onychogryphosis, ram’s horns’ nails look like what they’re called, and they’re caused by hereditary disordered nail plate growth. You can keep ram’s horns at bay with regular trims and cleaning.
It’s incredibly typical for toenails to change color, thickness, and shape with age—and, although you can’t prevent the cause, you don’t have to worry about any treatment either.
#6: Nail Polish
Bright red and orange nail polish can cause some yellow staining on your toenails. Of course, this is no cause for real concern, and you can easily work to remove it with acetone.
How Do I Keep My Toenails Healthy?
Now that you know what causes yellow toenails, here are some tips for preventing toenail fungus and injury:
- Cut them short, straight across, and slightly rounded at the tips to encourage healthy growth patterns and prevent ingrown toenails.
- Soak thick toenails in warm salt water for fifteen minutes to make them easier to cut.
- Wear flip-flops at the pool, public showers, and anywhere surfaces are warm and damp to keep fungus away.
- Make sure your shoes fit well and wear breathable socks.
- If you have any signs of fungus or infections, such as redness, pus, or pains, reach out to a dermatologist or podiatrist.
It’s probably not often (or maybe never, until now) that you think about yellow toenails. But now you know what to do about them. If you believe you have toenail fungus or another foot-related ailment, you need an expert! Contact us at Foot Specialists of Birmingham, and make an appointment.