Causes of Yellow Nails and How to Treat Them

Yellow nails can be a common and frustrating problem for many individuals. It is a condition where the nails of an individual turn yellow in color, which can be unsightly and affect one’s self-esteem.

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There are several causes of yellow nails, ranging from lifestyle factors to underlying medical conditions. One of the most common causes of yellow nails is smoking, as it stains the nails with nicotine and tar.

Other lifestyle factors that can contribute to yellow nails include excessive use of nail polish, frequent exposure to water or chemicals, and poor hygiene practices.

In addition to these external factors, yellow nails can also be a symptom of an underlying health condition such as liver disease, respiratory problems or thyroid disorders.

This article will explore the various causes of yellow nails and provide tips on how to treat them effectively.

Lifestyle Causes

According to a survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology, yellow nails are a common concern among individuals.

Lifestyle factors such as smoking and frequent use of nail polish are known to cause yellowing of nails.

Smoking has been associated with decreased blood flow to the nail bed, resulting in discoloration.

Similarly, prolonged use of nail polish or acrylic nails can lead to yellowing due to the chemicals present in these products.

Additionally, poor hygiene practices and excessive exposure to water can also contribute to yellow nails.

It is important to address these lifestyle factors in order to prevent and treat yellow nails effectively.

Poor Hygiene Practices

Neglecting to trim nails can lead to the accumulation of dirt and debris, which can cause yellowing of the nails. Not washing hands regularly can also cause yellowing of the nails due to the build-up of bacteria and fungi on the fingertips.

Neglecting To Trim Nails

Neglecting to Trim Nails is one of the root causes of yellow nails.

The accumulation of dirt and bacteria under long and untrimmed nails can contribute to the development of fungal infections, which could result in discoloration.

Poor nail hygiene can also lead to the buildup of dead skin cells that trap moisture between the nail bed and the nail plate, causing them to turn yellow.

To prevent this, it is recommended that individuals trim their nails regularly using a sanitized nail clipper, ensuring that they cut straight across without rounding the edges or cutting too close to the skin.

Additionally, keeping nails clean and dry while avoiding harsh chemicals can help maintain healthy-looking nails.

Not Washing Hands Regularly

Another poor hygiene practice that can contribute to nail discoloration is not washing hands regularly.

Not only can this lead to the buildup of dirt and bacteria under nails, but it can also spread infections and germs that may affect the overall health of nails.

Failure to wash hands after using the restroom, handling food, or being in contact with sick individuals can increase the risk of fungal infections and other diseases that could result in yellowing or discolored nails.

Thus, practicing good hand hygiene by washing hands regularly with soap and water can help maintain healthy-looking nails.

Health Conditions

Yellow nails can also be an indicator of underlying health conditions.

One such condition is fungal nail infections, which can cause nails to become thick and discolored.

Other possible health conditions include psoriasis, thyroid disease, and jaundice.

In some cases, yellow nails may be a side effect of medications or a symptom of lung disease.

It is important to see a healthcare provider if yellowing nails are accompanied by other symptoms or if they persist despite attempts at treating them with home remedies or over-the-counter products.

Treatment for underlying health conditions may involve medication or lifestyle changes, while treatment for fungal nail infections typically involves prescription antifungal medication and proper nail care practices such as keeping nails dry and trimmed.

Treatment Strategies

Various treatment strategies are available to manage yellow nails. The first step is to identify and address the underlying cause, such as avoiding exposure to chemicals or wearing gloves when necessary.

One may also consider using a nail hardener or a base coat that contains formaldehyde, which can strengthen and protect the nails from further damage. Additionally, applying vitamin E oil or moisturizer to the nails and cuticles regularly can help prevent dryness and brittleness.

In some cases, prescription antifungal medication or topical creams may be necessary if an infection is present. It is important to remember that treating yellow nails requires patience as it may take several months for healthy new nails to grow in fully.

Regular maintenance of good nail hygiene practices combined with appropriate treatment strategies can help restore the natural color and appearance of the nails over time.

Prevention Tips

Coincidentally, prevention is key to avoiding yellow nails.

The best way to prevent yellow nails is to avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals such as cleaning products and nail polish removers that contain acetone.

It is also important to wear gloves when handling chemicals and to keep your nails clean and dry at all times.

Maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can also help promote healthy nail growth.

Drinking plenty of water can keep your body hydrated, which will help your nails stay strong and healthy.

In addition, it is recommended that you limit your exposure to UV rays by wearing sunscreen on your hands or using gloves while outside for extended periods of time.

By following these simple prevention tips, you can keep your nails looking healthy and vibrant.


Yellow nails can be a source of embarrassment and decrease self-confidence. The causes of yellow nails are numerous, ranging from poor hygiene practices to health conditions.

Lifestyle habits such as smoking, excessive use of nail polish, and poor diet are significant contributors to yellow nails. Poor hygiene practices such as lack of proper handwashing or not drying hands adequately can also cause yellow nails.

In addition, some health conditions such as fungal infections, psoriasis, and thyroid problems can lead to discoloration of nails. It is essential to seek medical attention if the yellowing persists for an extended period or is accompanied by other symptoms.

Fortunately, there are several treatment strategies available for those with yellow nails. These include using over-the-counter antifungal medications, avoiding excessive use of nail polish, and practicing good hygiene habits.

Prevention is always better than cure. Thus it is crucial to adopt preventive measures like keeping nails dry and clean, avoiding harsh chemicals that damage the nail bed and cuticles.

In conclusion, understanding the causes of yellow nails empowers individuals to take control of their nail health through adopting healthy lifestyle habits and seeking appropriate medical attention when needed.