Your nails are an essential extension of your appendages (limbs). They are necessary for both cosmetic and survival purposes.
Regular, healthy nails are usually clear in color. They do not have cracks, ridges, or any shapes out of the ordinary.
Why could your toenails be yellow?
These are an indication of problems, however mild or severe. They are majorly grouped into causes due to either natural or pathophysiological reasons.
Natural nail yellowing
When your toenails yellow by natural means only, there is no cause for alarm. Many times, you don't even need to treat them. They pose no threats at all. Major natural causes of yellow toenails are due to one or both of the following:
Everything born has time to die. It is not any cause for alarm when you begin to notice yellow toenails as you grow older. Think of it this way: your hairs go grey as your nails go yellow. Asides the color change, other noticeable changes include increased thickness and shape distortion.
- Nail Paint
Some ladies hate the bland, natural nail color. It is not impossible, therefore, to notice discoloration of your nails with perpetual nail coloring. This yellow coloration is especially possible if the nail polishes you use are either orange or yellow. You will notice a gradual fade of the yellow coloration the moment you pause use. Give your nails a break.
Pathophysiological nail yellowing
In medicine, the state of the nails is essential pointers to the general body wellness. When a physician takes a long, hard look at your nails, he can make educated guesses. He knows what may have gone wrong in your body system. Yellow nails due to underlying body problems usually call for more concern and action. This is unlike that due to natural reasons. The following are some of the pathophysiological causes of nail yellowing.
- Vitamin and Mineral insufficiency
The moment you notice yellow nails with accompanied brittleness and vertical lines, you know you're running low on required vitamins and minerals. The exact ways that lack of these foods cause nail discoloration is beyond the scope of this article.
Fungal infections are probably the most common causes of this condition. This medical condition is known as onychomycosis. Old age is one of the risk factors for such diseases; hence it is more common in older people. You should know that fungal infections can cause other forms of discoloration asides yellowing. Nails can have white patches, haphazardly arranged yellow spots, or may even turn black.
Keratin is an integral constituent of our nails. Dermatophytes are the major causes of fungal infections. Feeding on keratin to grow, they deplete the nails of their structural composition. It is thus common to notice associated thickness and raggedness of the nails.
- Yellow Nail Syndrome
It is popularly known as YNS. In medicine, a syndrome is defined as a constellation of signs. It is thus a rare disorder that is characterized by three classical features. These include yellow nail discoloration, respiratory problems, and swelling of the lower limbs. Your nails may also appear clubbed (curved) or thickened. The cause is mostly idiopathic (unknown reason). It is a few times, however, linked with autoimmune diseases, cancers, or diseases of the lymphatic system. If therefore, asides yellow nails, you have difficulty breathing, or associated heaviness of the legs, you're likely suffering from YNS.
- Underlying medical problems
Yellow toenails are also generally indicative of poor blood perfusion. In such cases, they are the first stages of the development of gangrenous (dead) feet. These are peculiar to frostbites, and other medical conditions like diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and autoimmune disorders.
When to see the doctor
When yellow nails are due to natural causes, consequences range from zero to mild. You should know, however, to see the doctor, when you notice any of the following:
- Limb swelling
- A significant change in shape and thickness
- Bleeding or any discharge
- Swelling of the skin around the nail
- Associated difficulty in breathing
A lot of people don't take the conditions of their nails as seriously as they should. When you notice any of these, do not stay home, assuming the body will fix itself. Treat such conditions as typical medical emergencies, and see the doctor as soon as you can.
Home remedies to get rid of yellow nails
These household items can remove nail discoloration due to natural reasons discussed above. This also applies, if you know you've been guilty of inadequate mineral and vitamin consumption. They also work well for mild fungal or bacterial infections. People who have more severe associated symptoms should see a medical professional immediately.
- Baking soda: Solution is highly alkaline, preventing growth and infestation of fungi.
- Oregano oil Has antimicrobial properties and is thus effective against fungi and bacteria.
- Hydrogen peroxide: It has oxidizing properties and can thus 'wash' away yellow coloring.
- Vitamin E: It enhances skin moisture, and makes the nails healthier.
As widely accepted as these products may be, they are no substitute for professional medical advice. They have no record of 100% success. Upon use for about a week without changes, see your medical doctor.
General nail care
You know what they say: Prevention is better than cure. Here's how to improve nail health, and reduce the chances of growing yellow nails. Up your nail care with some tips below.
- Wear shoes that have a proper fitting. Shoes that are too tight can reduce blood supply to the toes and nails.
- Cut your nails. A lot of people do a manicure. Very few, however, do pedicure. Ensure you keep your toenails as short as possible. Frankly, they serve little to no functions at all. Long toenails are prone to injury
- Dry nails. Soggy environments are breeding sites for pathogens. By keeping your nails dry, you reduce the chances of an infection. This translates to always wearing clean socks and dry footwear too. Beyond the prevention of yellow toenails, this is just normal, essential cleanliness.
Yellow is a beautiful color. When it's the natural color of your toenails, however, it is not.
By ensuring proper nail hygiene, you stand the chance of never having yellow toenails. If you do, however, it is certainly not a death sentence.