Healthy nails are usually clear in color and donвt have any major issues like cracks, indentations, ridges, or abnormal shapes. If your toenails are turning yellow, it could be a result of something less serious, like aging or nail polish. Or it could be due to a more serious issue, like an infection. Aging can be a natural cause of yellow toenails and fingernails. As people grow older, the color, thickness, and shape of their nails tends to change. Aging individuals will often have a more yellow color to their nails. If you paint your nails frequently with nail polish thatвs red or orange in color, your nails can also be discolored as a result of the polish. Taking a break from painting your nails should make the yellow go away. Having yellow toenails isnвt dangerous by itself. However, if the cause for the yellow toenails is an underlying medical condition, it may be a sign that something is wrong. For example, yellow toenails can be caused by an infection, fungus, or medical disorder. In rare cases, yellow toenails can actually be a sign of a disorder called yellow nail syndrome (YNS). Doctors donвt know what exactly causes YNS, but people who have it have yellow, curved, thickened nails that grow slowly, along with other symptoms like respiratory problems.
Their nails also may have ridges or indentations in them and can also turn black or green. One of the most common causes of yellow toenails in an infection by a fungus that attacks the nails. This is called, and it happens more in adults than children. It can lead the nail to turn yellow, have yellow spots, white patches, or even turn black. The fungal infection is caused most often by dermatophytes, which eat keratin to grow. Keratin is found in skin and nails. According to American Family Physician, onychomycosis occurs in about
of the adult population, and the risk of getting it increases with age. About half of people over the age of 70 get the fungal infection. Some people are more prone to getting yellow toenails or catching a fungal infection. If you have a medical condition that causes poor blood circulation in the legs, like diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or other autoimmune disorders, youвre more prone to foot disorders in general. Athletes or people who spend a lot of time in hot or moist conditions are also more prone to getting a foot infection.
Thick, yellow finger- or toenails are often caused by nail fungus. Nail fungus may begin as a small spot of yellow or white, but if left untreated, will soon spread and turn the affected nail thick, yellow and crumbly. Fingernail fungus can occur with artificial nail tips, as the tips seal in heat and moisture, letting fungus thrive. Toes are more commonly affected by nail fungus, according to the Mayo Clinic. Being kept in warm socks and shoes make feet a fertile breeding ground for fungus. Since nail fungus is ugly and painful, and can cause permanent damage to your nails as well as spread infection through your body, it is important to take steps to treat it as soon as you notice thick, yellow nails. Prevent nail fungus from developing whenever possible. If you notice a small spot of separation in the nail, cut your nails short, dry them well after bathing, use an antifungal spray and change your socks often to prevent fungus from taking hold of your toenails. Soak the affected digits in vinegar. The Mayo Clinic recommends mixing two parts of water with one part of vinegar, and soaking your hands or feet in the solution for 15 minutes each day.
If skin irritation occurs, decrease the ratio of vinegar to water. See your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. He can scrape the nail and view the material under a microscope to verify that it is fungus, and prescribe medication to cure the fungus. Treatment options include a medicated nail polish, medicated creams and oral medications. Ask your doctor about using Vicks VapoRub to treat your thickened, yellow nails. Although there are no studies to back it up, there is some anecdotal evidence that VapoRub can cure nail fungus. Talk to your doctor about using this home remedy before trying it. Talk to your doctor about having surgery if you have a very stubborn case of nail fungus. In some cases, removing the affected nail along with applying medication to the area will cure the fungus. According to The Skin Site, nail removal alone will not usually cure the problem. Talk to your doctor about the risks and side effects of medications used to treat nail fungus. Some medications may cause liver damage, headaches, rash or upset stomach.