Why Do Toenails Turn Yellow? And What To Deal With That?


Yellow toenails. You’ve seen them on others, or maybe they have gotten yellow over time. So why do toenails turn yellow? There are a couple of diseases and conditions that cause yellow nails.

Some reasons are more innocuous than others – for example, painting your toenails with a dark shade of nail polish can make them turn yellow.

However, many other times, yellow toenails can be caused by something more nefarious. You want to inspect your toenails regularly because they are a window into your body’s health.

If you notice that your nails are discolored, you should see a podiatrist pronto. The doctor will figure out what is causing the discoloration. Toenail discoloration can happen to everyone, but is most common in the older population.


Symptoms to Watch Out For

Many times, yellow toenails come coupled with additional symptoms. The other symptoms can often indicate the true cause of your yellow nails. Look for these symptoms:

What Is At The Root Of Yellow Toenails?

Most of the time, yellow toenails result from toenail fungus. Wearing closed toe shoes that cause your feet to sweat and the sweat mixes with the bacteria living on the skin of your foot.

Bacteria may also occur if you walk barefoot in public, wet places (not a good idea!) or if you don’t allow your toenails time to air themselves out. Athletes are also susceptible to toenail fungus due to the repetitive movements they do, usually in the same shoes. And anyone who regularly wears one pair of shoes can also fall prey to toenail fungus.

There are some other reasons why you might have yellow toenails: weak or brittle toenails, a genetic disorder (with markedly different symptoms and problems), circulation problems, a complication known as Lymphedema weakened the immune system or diabetes.

What Do I Do About My Yellow Toenails?

To figure out how to address the issue of yellow toenails, it’s smart to determine what might be causing them. For example, if your toes have turned yellow because they are stained with nail polish, you should let your nails get air, and you might have to wait until your toenail grows out to get them back to a more natural color.

In the case that your toenails are yellow due to an infection, you will want to see your podiatrist figure out how to treat it properly.

If you believe diabetes causes your yellow toenails, you will want to improve your condition to get control. The toenails are a window into the body’s health. If an underlying condition is causing your discoloration, it is best to treat the condition to heal the other body parts.

In some cases, if you have an infection, and can no longer function or walk around on it, removing the nail will allow a healthy new nail to be grown in.

How Can I Prevent Yellow Toenails?

Have Yellow Toenail Fungus? Here are some Treatment Options 

  • Wear shoes comprised of materials that are breathable.
  • Wear socks that are clean – never reuse socks!
  • ​If you are receiving treatment, follow the instructions of your doctor completely.
  • ​Don’t walk barefoot in public
  • ​Dry toes and feet thoroughly after they get wet
  • ​Take time to specifically clean your toes and feet
  • ​If someone else has a fungus infection, try to avoid making any contact with this person
  • ​If someone else has a fungus infection, do not share bathmats, clothes, and towels while they are experiencing or healing from the infection
  • ​Speak to your physician about every treatment option available to you before you use a product
  • ​Talk to your doctor as quickly as you can if your toenails become discolored
  • ​Cut the toenails straight across, and never too short
  • Take time to practice correct toenail and foot hygiene
  • ​If you polish your toenails, do not wear a shade for an extended length of time. Try to opt for a lighter hue and formaldehyde free polish
  • ​If you have Diabetes keep your blood sugar balance in check
  • ​If you are aging, do exercises to increase blood circulation because lack of blood flow to the nail bed causes yellow toenails
  • If you have Lymphedema, see a doctor for advice.

Your First Steps

3 Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus Treatment

Your instinct might be to want to cover up the yellow toenails with nail polish but fight the urge. In fact, if the weather is nice, try to wear sandals. At least in your house walk around barefoot as much as possible.

You can try a vinegar foot soak. Some studies suggest that vinegar might prevent the growth of some bacteria.

Mix one cup of vinegar with two cups of water into a foot bath and soak the feet for about fifteen minutes two or three times every week. Rinse the feet thoroughly after your soak. You can also allow your nails to soak in a bath of fresh lemon juice because its acidity can have bleaching properties.

Remember that once you get your condition under control, as your toenails heal, do not pick. Don’t even if the nails end up separating from their nail beds. Also, if your nails are infected and you have touched them, scrub your hands exhaustively because toenail fungus has a tendency to spread easily.


Doctors will tell you that any quick and pronounced alteration in the appearance of your toenails should mean a visit with a doctor. Remember that you can prevent toenail discoloration by:

  • Using lighter colors of nail polish for a shorter amount of time
  • Practicing good foot hygiene like washing your feet and toes every day
  • ​Never walking barefoot in public
  • ​Drying feet thoroughly after they get wet
  • ​Avoiding physical contact with people who have or are healing from a nail infection
  • ​Trying not to share towels or clothes
  • Keeping other underlying conditions, like Diabetes under control.


Yellow toenails are not only unsightly, and they can signal that there is a bigger problem going on in your body that you aren’t yet aware of.  So why toenails turn yellow? Take the precautionary measures we suggested, and see a doctor quickly if you don’t think the discoloration was caused by nail polish.

If you found this article helpful or have some experience of your own you would like to share, leave a comment below.

You might also like:


1. https://www.canyonranch.com/your-health/whole-beauty/head-toe-beauty/beauty-q/why-are-my-toenails-yellow

2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/174945-why-do-toe-nails-turn-yellow/

3. http://www.footvitals.com/toenails/yellow-toenails.html

Lamont Ly

My name is Lamont Ly and I have spent the countless number of hours researching and studying the best solutions for foot care related problems. My goal is to save your time as well as money by offering all the assistance backed by relevant and reliable information so that the health of your feet is not compromised in any way.

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