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Yellow Nails

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Fingernails speak volumes about your health. Healthy nails with healthy skin beneath its bed should have a pink tinge. But if nails have turned yellow, it may indicate a health disorder or can be a result of some poor habits. Yellow nails are caused by several things. Let us discuss some of the reasons for this discoloration.


Causes of yellow nails

Smoking: Cigarette smoking is the most common cause for yellow finger nails. Over a period of time nicotine and tar content in cigarettes tend to discolor the nails. Quitting smoking is obviously the best way to reduce the yellow nails as also to maintain good health. But if it is hard to quit smoking, it should at least be put in the ashtray in between puffs, instead of holding it continuously.

Underlying health problem: Though not always, yellow nails may occur due to some health disorders such as liver disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and nutritional deficiencies, particularly iron and zinc. Hence, if you have noticed yellow nails along with any other symptoms, you must consult doctor to rule out any underlying medical problem.

Fungal infection: Nails turn brownish yellow when there is a local fungal infection. Fungal infection causes flaking, foul smell and pigmentation which colors the nail yellow. Fungal infection needs to be treated with medication specifically designed for that purpose. Once the infection is treated nails will restore the original color. Psoriasis too turns the nails yellow. Like fungal infection, this condition also requires immediate medical attention.

Yellow Nail Syndrome: It is an uncommon health disorder wherein the problem occurs in the lymphatic system of the person along with chest complications leading to thickened yellowish green nails. In rare conditions nails get detached from the nail bed. Vitamin E ointment or some supplements may help in reconditioning the nail and nail bed.


Yellow nails and nail polish


Regular usage of nail polish, particularly of darker shades leaves a stain on your nails. Nails take in some of the pigment from the polish. Discoloring may also occur due to a chemical reaction between the colorant and the nail plate.

If you are fond of red nail polish, think again. This shade contains higher amount of Iron oxides and other pigments which can stain the nails yellow. Nail polish also contains chemical called formaldehyde which may react with the keratin protein in nails and make it yellow.


Few tips while using nail polish
  • Wear a base coat before applying the nail polish to avoid a direct contact of your nails with the pigments and other chemicals in the nail polish.

  • Opt for a lighter shade and try to avoid dark colors.

  • Occasionally leave your nails without nail polish to let them breathe in.

  • Wash off the nail polish remover thoroughly after every use, as any residue of the remover left on the nails may cause yellowness.

How to get rid of yellow nails

If your nails have turned yellow due to health problem, seek medical help at the earliest. If you are a habitual smoker, the only way is to quit the habit. But if yellowness is caused due to continuous usage of nail polish; you can follow some of the remedies mentioned below.


  • Soak your fingers in lemon juice for few minutes and rinse thoroughly. The acid content in the lemon juice will turn your stained nails sparkling white.

  • Opt for lemon essential oil if you want to whiten the finger nails and also moisturize them.

  • You can use baking soda solution to help remove the yellow color on your nails. It can even be mixed with lemon juice before soaking your fingers.

  • Denture tablets, just as they brighten our teeth, work on our nails too. Dissolve denture tablets in water, and soak your nails for several minutes.

  • Gentle buffing of nails removes discoloration.

  • If you want your nails to look white in a jiffy, nothing comes in as handy as nail whitening pencil. Just color your nails with the pencil, and you are ready to flaunt your pretty nail.

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