Yellow Nails? Here are the causes and how to treat them

by The First Refresh

Did you know: your nails can tell you so much about your health? While discolouration could simply be a result of polish stains or poor removal of your last acrylic set, in some other cases, it might mean vitamin deficiency or an infection. 

In most cases, however, yellow nails are caused by a fungal infection - although not serious, this may cause the nail bed to retract, with nails thickening and becoming brittle if not treated properly. It’s nasty, we know! 

Here are some common causes of yellowing nails and how to treat them: 

You Might Have a Fungal Infection

Thick, yellow toenails can be the result of onychomycosis - a fungal infection of the nail. It is caused by a fungus called dermatophyte; and a tell-tale sign of how to spot it is a white or yellow spot that appears under the tip of the fingernail or toenail. 

This infection can be exacerbated by improper removal of acrylic nails or overusing acetone polish remover. 

Too much Nail Polish

The chemicals in nail polishes (especially if they’ve set on your shelf for awhile) such as triphenyl phosphate, formaldehyde and toluene can contribute to weakening and absorbing of the nutrients from nails. 

The dye in your nail polish interacts with the keratin in your nails as well - this contributes to discolouration, causing nails to become brittle and weak. 

This is why applying a base coat as a non-negotiable foundation to your manicure is so important. Try taking some keratin supplements if you believe this is the cause of your yellow nails, or look out for nail polishes that indicate non-toxic formulas. 

Blunt Trauma

We love a good pair of high heels, but our feet might not feel the same way! Shoes that are too small, fit improperly (yes, that includes fashion-forward styles like square-toed or triangle-shaped shoes) can cause blunt trauma to your nails. This is because improperly fitted shoes can cause excessive pressure at certain points of the feet, such as pressure to toes and nails - especially if they’re worn for long periods of time. 

If you have accidentally stubbed a toenail against a wall or door, take extra precautions to ensure it heals appropriately - to prevent development of further issues. 

Vitamin Deficiency

Yellow nails could also be evidence of vitamin deficiencies.

Biotin, gelatin and collagen are important supplements that are often given to strengthen weak nails. A lack of any of these are usually the root cause of soft or brittle nails. 

Magnesium provides the protein your nail needs, critical for healthy growth. Similarly, zinc also promotes cell growth and division, which play a role in nail growth too. 

Finally, weak nails could be a sign of B-12 vitamin deficiency. Supplementing this vitamin helps with iron absorption in the nails, key for healthy and strong nails. 

With these common and most frequent causes, what can you do to treat yellow nails? Whether you’re seeking to stop nail discoloration in its tracks, or to treat them, here are some home remedies that you can do before heading to the experts. 

Soak Your Nails in Diluted White Vinegar

If your yellow nails are the cause of a fungal infection, an effective way to treat this is with a home-made soak. For the soak, use half a cup of white vinegar in a bowl of water - this will help eliminate the fungus. Soaking your nails everyday for 10 minutes in this solution will help to cleanse and thus promote healthy nail regrowth. 

Use a Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

Hydrogen Peroxide solution is a great technique to use if your yellow nails are the result of staining. Experts recommend mixing the hydrogen peroxide with warm water (one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water) and soaking your nails for five minutes.

Oral or Topical Anti-fungal Medication

Medication is an alternative for treating fungal infections, but consult with a dermatologist before seeking this out. This is usually reserved for more serious cases, and a dermatologist can determine the exact type of fungus at the root of the problem, as well as what medication will work best. 

Vitamin Supplements

Over the counter vitamin supplements can be bought at any pharmacy - and are known to treat unhealthy nails. Look for supplements that provide magnesium, zinc, collagen and B-12 boosts. This is the most basic way to treat yellowing or discolored nails, after all, as the best beauty treatments come from nourishing the inside out.

Most importantly, yellow nails do take time to recover - so it is important to be patient! But with a commitment to the treatment, they should be gone in no time and your nails will be ready for your next mani-pedi. 

Remember to save the date for your next Nail Oasis session with us. Our nail spa experience includes a warming foot soak, scrub and massage and offers a range of polish options from gel to classic and non-toxic (halal) options

Preventing Yellow Nails

You can do your part to prevent nail discoloration by being more careful about nail hygiene, especially if you’re one to visit the salons often! Check that your manicurist’s toolkit is clean and sanitized before use.

Wanting some extra TLC? Add on a nail spa and extended massage, powered by VOESH NY. Check out more here