All About Yellow Toenails

Many people all around the world suffer from yellow toenails. Some people have yellowish tinge on the nails whereas others have completely yellow nails.

Most of the time, yellow toenails are caused by various types of diseases and conditions but sometimes, personal habits also lead to discolorations of toenails.

While there are a number of different causes of yellow toenails, it may also indicate a bigger problem such as yellow nail syndrome, chronic swelling of the legs, fungal infection and diabetes among others.

causes of yellow toenails


Causes of Yellow Toenails

Here is a list of some of the most common causes of yellow toenails.

1. Fungal Infection

It is a common disorder that is caused by dermatophyte fungus. This fungus likes eating keratin (protein) present in the toenail bed and toenail. In medical terms, this condition is known as Onychomycosis.

This condition can also affect your fingernails but it is more likely to affect toenails. This infection usually does not affect children but it is estimated that up to 10% of the adult population suffers from this infection.

This fungus is contagious and easily spreads through direct or indirect contact. It may also be the result of cross infection from athlete’s foot. Many people contact this fungus by sharing towels, socks and shoes and not washing after contact activities.

It may also surface if you wear same shoes continuously or having a pedicure or manicure with non-sterilized instruments. People who wear synthetic socks or shoes and do not allow their feet to dry thoroughly before putting on shoes or socks are also at risk of this fungal infection.

2. Toenail Polish

If you polish your nails on a regular basis, it may also lead to yellow toenails. If this is the case, you can easily get rid of it by using a base coat before you apply nail polish. The yellowish color should go away if you stop using nail polish for some time.

3. Yellow Nail Syndrome

It is a rare genetic disorder that leads to mark thickening and yellow greenish discoloration of the toenails.

4. Other Causes

Some other conditions such as diabetes, tuberculosis and others may also lead to yellow toenails but it’s rare. In such cases, your body will also have other symptoms along with yellowish toenails. Most of the time, isolated yellow toenails are the result of fungal infection.

Treatment of Yellow Toenails

Many different types of treatments are available these days to get rid of yellow nails. However, before beginning any treatment, it is important that you go to a doctor and figure out the exact cause of yellow nails.

Most of the times, the cause will be clear but you have any doubts, it is better to go see a doctor and find out the exact cause.

1. There are a number of popular home remedies such as using apple cider vinegar, Listerine and other such things to treat yellow nails.

These home-made remedies have been found to be effective for a number of people but these do not work for everyone.

2. Market is full of many over the counter topical treatments with claims of permanent treatment of nail fungus. These treatments usually contain a number of natural ingredients with antifungal properties.

However, many of these products usually do not have any clinical studies confirming the effectiveness of these treatments.

3. Your doctor can prescribe you oral antifungal medication for treatment of fungal infection. These medications are usually only available on prescription and these target fungus from inside.

However, many of these medications have various side effects such as liver damage. Doctors usually recommend blood work on a regular basis while you undergo this treatment.

4. If nothing works, the only remaining option for a person is to surgically remove the affected nail. However, this is usually the last course of action.

Home Remedies for Treatment of Yellow Toenails

As mentioned above, there are several popular home remedies that have been found to be effective for a number of people. Here is a list of some of the more popular home remedies.

Hydrogen Peroxide

It has whitening properties and works great for yellow stained nails. However, it is important to use a solution that contains only 3% hydrogen peroxide otherwise it may lead to other problems.

To use the solution, you need to take around 3 to 4 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide butter and mix it in half a cup of water. Use this solution to soak your mails for around 2 min and gently scrub your nails using a soft toothbrush.

Clean your nails with warm water and this should be repeated at least once a week for a number of months. If the stain is stubborn, hydrogen peroxide may be applied directly onto your nail.

It is important to keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide is a dehydrating agent and therefore, it is recommended to apply a moisturizing lotion after you use this remedy.

Keep in mind that this remedy does not treat the root cause of the problem but may only provide slight discoloration that will make your nails look whiter.

Tea Tree Oil

This is a natural essential oil and it has anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties. This oil is extracted from a plant that is grown only in Australia and it is a potent oil and therefore, should be used carefully.

It is a natural fungicide and therefore, it can be used to treat any fungus related infection. There are several ways in which you can use tea tree oil.

First of all, you need to buy 100% pure tea tree oil. There are a number of brands available in the market offering diluted solutions but for this remedy, you need 100% pure oil.

Open the bottle and use an eyedropper to apply just one drop on your nail bed. This should be left on for a few minutes and then rinse it off with you warm water. This remedy should be used twice on a daily basis for a number of months.

Another option you have is to mix equal amounts of olive oil and tea tree oil. Olive oil is carrier oil and helps tea tree oil penetrate deep into your nail bed.

You may apply the solution with the help of cotton balls and it should also be applied twice daily for several months. Since tea tree oil has antifungal properties, it targets the root cause of the problem and will be able to provide permanent relief.

Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Commonly available teeth whitening toothpaste contains hydrogen peroxide. It is responsible for whitening your teeth and you can also use it on your toenails to whiten them. Just take any teeth whitening toothpaste and apply it on your nails.

Allow it to sit on the nail bed for around 10 min and then use a soft brush to scrub off the paste. Wash it off with warm water and you will immediately notice whitening of your yellowish nails.

Baking Soda

Baking soda has hundreds of different uses and you may also use it for bleaching and exfoliating your nail bed. For this remedy, you need to take 2 1/2 tablespoons baking soda and one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen curbside.

Mix them in a small bowl and use cotton balls to apply this mix on your yellow colored nails.

This mixture should be left on for around 3 to 4 min and then you should wash it off with lukewarm water. This process should be repeated every 6 to 8 weeks for long-term relief.

You can also mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with half a teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

This mix should be rubbed on your nail bed with the help of a soft brush. Rinse it off after 5 min and repeat this every two weeks for long-term relief.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be used in a number of ways. Many people take one teaspoon of ACV on a daily basis to boost their immune system and for overall well-being.

You can use it for reducing nail discoloration as it is rich in acetic acid and malic acid. It also has antifungal properties.

To use Apple cider vinegar, you need to take half a cup of ACV and mix it with lukewarm water. Soak your nails in this solution for around 20 min and then pat dry your nails. Repeat this three times on a daily basis for around a month.


This mouth wash contains many active ingredients that have antifungal properties. Take 100% Listerine and soak your nails in it around 30 min. They should be done on a daily basis for around a week.

Do not get alarmed if your nails turn green as it will disappear within a few days. You may also mix Listerine and vinegar in the equal amounts to get relief from yellowish color.

How to Prevent Yellow Toenails

As mentioned above, the most common cause of yellow nails is fungal infection. There are a number of things you can do to prevent yellow toenails.

You should always wear shoes made from breathable material and make sure that your socks are clean and dry. Do not wear same socks and shoes on a continuous basis.

You should never share your towels, clothes or bath mats with others. Also, you need to make sure that your toes are completely dry throughout the day. In case you feel anything is wrong with your nails, consult your doctor immediately as early treatment can be highly effective.

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