Yellow Toenails: Causes Treatments And Prevention Remedies
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Yellow toenails can not only be an embarrassing sight, but they could also indicate a concerning health condition.
Our toenails can reveal the state of our health, particularly if we are at risk for serious infections or other complications. The shape, color, and texture of the nails will signal problems with the feet as well as our internal systems.
Instead of covering those yellow toenails with socks for the summer, lets learn the reason behind the discoloration and helpful home remedies to treat them.
Look at your toenails. Are they discolored? Are there ridges or dents on the nail beds? Are they growing in an abnormal shape? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be a sign of an existing health condition.
If Your Toenails Areyellow Or Brown
A common reason for yellow or brown nails is toenail fungus. And if this is the case, it’s likely your nails will be thick and brittle, too. Toenail fungus can happen from wearing moist sneakers or wearing the same pair for too long. The insides of shoes are a perfect environment to harbor fungal organisms. This condition often begins as an infection in the skin, says Cunha. As the nail fungus penetrates deeper into the nail, it may cause the nail to discolor, thicken, and develop crumbling edges.
Treatment of this condition depends largely on the severity of the infection, and to find that out, experts say you should really go to a doctor and get a nail biopsy. This will help guide exactly what to do about it. A nail biopsy sounds kind of extreme in a world where the drugstore offers plenty of OTC remedies. But if you really want something that works against toenail discoloration and fungusand you do, because nail fungus can take a long time to get rid ofyou need to see a doctor and get that biopsy to be sure you’re using the right product to solve the right problem.
There are other reasons for yellow and brown nails as well, including complications from diabetes. If you have diabetes, make sure your doctor checks your feet every time you visit . Yellow nails could also signifyin rare casesrespiratory or lung issues.
How Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus
Theres no way to guarantee that you wont get toenail fungus. But you can take several steps to help prevent it:
- Avoid going barefoot in communal areas such as hotel rooms / showers, public showers, locker rooms and swimming pools. Most people pick up fungus in these situations. It helps to wear flip flops in these public areas.
- If you have a family member with foot fungus or nail fungus, try to use different shower or wear flip flops in the shower to avoid coming in contact with it.
- Trauma due to accidental or aggressive clipping of the nails can turn into portals of entry for the fungus.
- Clean your nail trimmer before using it.
- Do not tear or rip your toenails on purpose.
- If you have diabetes, follow all foot care recommendations from your healthcare provider.
- Keep your feet dry. Make sure to fully dry your feet after a shower.
- Soak toenails in warm water before cutting them. Or you can cut your nails after a shower or bath.
- Trim toenails straight across .
- Wear shoes that fit correctly. They should not be too loose or tight around the toes.
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Why Are My Toenails Yellow And Thick
If your toenails are becoming yellow and thick it could be a result of ageing, infection or even nail polish. When your toenail begins to get thicker over time its more likely a sign of fungal infection. Otherwise known as onychomycosis.
Also, it could be something less troubling, like ageing or nail polish. But if its a fungal infection, left untreated for a long period of time thick toenails may cause a lot of pains.
Also, nail fungus can be very contagious, it can easily spread to other parts of the body such as the head, skin and fingernail. Treatment will now be important to cure the fungal infection, nail fungus can be very difficult to cure it can take months even years to see any result.
Conditions That May Look Like Toenail Fungus
Several health conditions can affect the appearance of your toenails and may be mistaken for toenail fungus.
Psoriasis Psoriasis can cause red, scaly patches on the skin. More than half of people with skin psoriasis also have it on their nails. Toenails and fingernails affected by psoriasis may be thick, discolored, crumbly, or loose. Some people will have nail changes with psoriasis, and if it affects the matrix , then these changes are permanent, says Sheth.
Skin Cancer A discolored spot underneath a toenail may be a sign of melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer. Melanoma under a toenail usually looks like a brown or black streak or may appear similar to a bruise. Although this isnt common, its also not rare, says Sheth. Her advice: Its always good to check it out.
Darier Disease This genetic disorder typically causes yellowish, wartlike blemishes on the body. However, some people with Darier disease also have fingernail or toenail irregularities, such as nails that are marked with red and white streaks, according to Genetics Home Reference. Sheth notes, however, that shes never had a biopsy come back with a diagnosis of Darier disease.
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Black Stripes On Nails Could Signify A Serious Issue Or Not
If your nails have black stripes or other black discolorations, the cause could vary from something completely harmless to something much more serious.
“The most common reason for dark stripes down a person’s nails is a condition which occurs in almost 50% of African Americans known as linear melanonychia,” Cunha said. This occurs, “when pigments in the nail known as melanocytes make excess pigment causing the nail beds to darken.” Another possible cause for blackened nails could be a splinter hemorrhage, which is another type of bruise resulting from an injury.
“Less common reasons include taking certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs skin cancer and immunodeficiency disease such as HIV, lupus, and scleroderma,” he said. Because black discolorations on nails could be a sign of very serious illness, they’re definitely worth showing to a physician.
White Spots And Streaks
Stubbing your toe doesnât always lead to a bruise. Thatâs because the blood vessels under the nail might not break and leak blood. Instead, you might get a white spot on your toenail. It wonât donât disappear like a bruise, but it will grow out in time. Toe trauma can also cause a white streak — though you might not know you hurt yourself. For example, it can happen when sneakers are too small and your toe hits the front of the shoe.
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What Causes Toenails To Fall Off
There are two primary causes for toenail loss, fungus, and injury. Toenail fungus, a fungal infection caused by dermatophytes, is the most common reason that a toenail will fall off. Dermatophytes feed on the keratin found in the skin and nails and thrive in warm, moist environments. The development of toenail fungus can make the nails very brittle which makes them more likely to crack or chip. The fungal growth can also grow between the nail and the nailbed leading to a separation of the toenail, leading to eventual loss.
Injury is the second most common cause of toenail loss. The injury itself may either be a traumatic event or occur from repetitive stress. For example, if you are a runner and your toes regularly push against the inside of your shoe, the constant pressure may lead to blistering of the skin under the nail, forcing the separation of the nail from the nail bed. More traumatic or acute injuries may lead to bleeding under the nail.
Other Medical Conditions That May Cause Yellow Toenails
- Psoriasis: A salmon patch that looks like a pink- or yellow-colored oil drop develops on the nail when psoriasis affects the nail bed.
- Sarcoidosis: Yellow discoloration of the nails, often with pitting, bleeding under the nails, hyperpigmentation of the nail bed, or inflammation of the skin around the nails.
- Diabetes: Yellowing, brittleness, and thickening of the nails due to decreased circulation.
- Thyroid disease: Yellow nails, plus overgrowth of the nails, lifting of the nail off the nail bed, nail clubbing, and swelling of the toes and fingers.
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Remedies And Treatments For Thick Yellow Toenails
Itâs common for yeasts, molds, and other fungi can enter toenails and cause infection. Itâs important to practice habits that prevent toenail infection and reinfection.
The following measures can help you prevent thick yellow toenails caused by infection:
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks to prevent fungi from forming in the fabric.
- Wear shoes in pool areas and locker rooms where you could come in contact with nail fungus.
- Shoes offer a dark, moist environment that helps fungi grow. Treat old shoes with antifungal powders or disinfectants.
- Wash your hands and feet regularly. Fungal infections are more common in toenails since your feet are in warm, moist environments more often.
- Trim your toenails and smooth the edges with a file. This will make it easier for topical treatments to reach deeper layers of the nail.
Topical treatments administer antifungal agents on your toenails to stop fungal growth. A healthy toenail can then grow back. It takes time for thick yellow toenail treatments to work. You may not see results for months.
What Can You Do About Yellow Nails
Your nails can tell you a lot about your overall health. Discoloration, weakness and lifted nails all point to various illnesses that may be a result of the change in both your fingernails and toenails. But is all yellowing necessarily a medical condition that requires you to consult your physician? No. So, what causes your nails to change shape and color?
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Cures For An Infected Ingrown Toenail
Ingrown toenail pus is not only painful, but it can also pose serious challenges when it comes to treating it. The reason being that they can easily be infected, are in many cases a recurring problem. If you notice, the ingrown toenail has developed an infection, you should not attempt to treat it at home.
According to Dr. Alan K. Mauser, a podiatrist in Louisville Kentucky, if you find that the ingrown toenail has become infected, the first thing you need to do is ensure that you see a podiatrist. If not infected, you can try out a few home remedies to see whether you will be able to keep the pain at bay, while at the same time ensuring that the ingrown toenail will not come back in the future.
When To See A Doctor
People with mild symptoms of fungal infection may treat their toenails at home. But infections can lead to more serious problems, such as foot ulcers, in people with diabetes. Poor blood flow can keep infections from healing.
If your toenails continue becoming discolored, thicker, or deformed despite treatments, itâs a good idea to see a doctor. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have diabetes, as toenail fungus can lead to more serious infections and diabetic foot problems. Itâs possible that your thick yellow toenails are caused by conditions such as psoriasis, a skin disease.
Doctors can better diagnose the cause of your thick yellow toenails by collecting and analyzing nail clippings. They can then prescribe a treatment plan. Treatments may include prescription medicines you can take by mouth or removal of the damaged nail.
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Why Is Only My Big Toenail Yellow
When toenails turn yellow, a fungus is usually to blame. This type of fungal infection is so common that you might not even need to see a doctor for treatment. Try an over-the-counter antifungal cream. If your nail is yellow and thick, gently file down the surface so that the drug can reach deeper layers.
What Are The Different Types Of Toenail Problems
Toenail problems fall into two broad categoriesdeformities and dystrophies. Deformities are changes in nail shape. Dystrophies are changes in texture, composition or color, alone or combined. Specific types of toenail problems include:
- Beau lines:A deep groove or gap of missing nail across the nail plate. This indicates the nail matrix slowed or stopped growing for a period of time.
- Clubbing: A downward curve at the free edge of the nail plate. Along with the curving, the nail bed may soften and feel spongy, making the nail plate feel like it isnt firmly attached. There is also an angle up where the nail plate and cuticle meet.
- Green nail syndrome:A greenish-blackish spot under the nail plate that indicates an infection with Pseudomonas bacteria. It is usually the result of onycholysis or chronic paronychia .
- Koilonychia: A thin nail plate that has a concave dip in it resembling a spoon.
- Median nail dystrophy: Small parallel cracks running across the nail, out from the center. They can resemble a Christmas tree pattern. This problem is similar to onychotillomania .
- Melanonychia striata:A dark vertical streak on the nail bed that you can see through the nail plate. It may represent a normal change, but it can also be a sign of .
- Onychocryptosis : A condition where the nail plate grows into a side nail fold. It is usually the result of cutting the nail too short. An ingrown toenail can become painful and infected.
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Why Are My Toenails Yellow
You might not pay much attention to your toes until flip-flop and sandal season rolls around.
But you should because toenails that are discolored yellow could point to something more than an unsightly cosmetic issue.
Yellowish nails are the bodys way of telling you something could be amiss, so dont ignore them or just cover them up with nail polish.
For the most part, yellowish-colored nails dont pose a major health risk, but because they could be caused by a fungus or another underlying condition, a doctors visit is often in order.
Here are some reasons why nails become yellow, plus the other ways your nails can change, and how to treat it.
If Your Toenail Iswhite Or Has White Spots
White spots or lines on the nail, or leukonychia, can indicate several conditions. White lines can appear if there is recurring pressure or trauma to the nailfor instance, if a runner wears shoes that are too small and the toe continues to hit the top of the shoe, Cunha says. White spots will form if the injury was not severe enough to break the blood vessel, which would lead to darkening.
Leukonychia can also stem from a zinc or iron deficiency, says Canuso.
If the white spots are caused by injury, try taking a nail-fortifying vitamin like biotin to improve hair, skin, and nails and of course, you should stop doing whatever traumatic activity youve been doing. Be patient and simply allow the healthy nail to grow and gradually replace the white nail over time, Cunha says. This can take several months to resolve, as toenails typically grow only about a millimeter each month. If you suspect you’re not getting all the nutrients you need, talk with a doctor or dietician.
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How Are Thick Toenails Diagnosed
See a doctor if you notice a change in the appearance of your nails. Treating a fungal infection in its early stages will help prevent the condition from worsening.
Your doctor will look at your nails to diagnose the condition. The doctor may also take a swab underneath the nail or take a toenail clipping to diagnose the condition.
When Should I Call The Doctor
In rare cases, toenail fungus can cause an infection called cellulitis. Without prompt treatment, cellulitis may pose a serious danger to your health.
You should seek treatment guidance from a trusted healthcare provider if you have:
- Circulation problems.
- Redness, pain or pus near the toenail.
- Weakened immune system.
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Causes Of Thick Toenails
There are multiple causes that can lead to thickened toenails.
1. Injuries. In many cases injuries to the toenail can cause them to become thicker as they heal. Those who play sports which are hard on the feet such as soccer, or those who perform activities such as dancing in closed shoes can be at risk for these kinds of injuries. In this case, the thickening of the toenails is often temporary and will return to normal when the damage is healed.
2. Fungus. In some cases, fungus can cause the toenails to become thicker. Fungus growing around the nail can cause the nail to separate from the nail bed as the fungus fills in the area. In this case, the nail will often become yellow or brown in addition to becoming thicker.
3. Some skin conditions can also affect the toenails and cause them to become thicker. Issues such as eczema and psoriasis can cause the dead skin cells around the nails to become inflamed or irritated. As this irritation becomes more severe you can wind up with thick toenails that are uncomfortable and difficult to maintain.
4. Poor circulation can also cause the toenails to thicken. Conditions such as diabetes which cause damage to the digits or make it harder for blood to flow to the toes will lower skin quality, and therefore the quality of the nails in this area.