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How to Get Rid of Yellow Fingernails and Toenails: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

How to Get Rid of Yellow Fingernails and Toenails: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention

Article Outline

1. What causes yellow nails?

2. How to get rid of yellow fingernails & toenails. 

3. Tips to prevent yellow nails.

People notice your fingernails and toenails, even more so if they’re discolored. With the warmer weather rolling in shortly, fixing discolored nails should be a top priority. One of the biggest complaints from woman is that men have dirty, nasty hands and feet. Don’t be that guy! If you already have yellow nails, here’s how to bring them back to life. If your nails are already looking bueno, here’s how to keep them that way.

What Causes Yellow Fingernails and Toenails?

Knowing how to eliminate a problem starts with figuring out why it’s happening in the first place. Here are some common causes of yellow, discolored fingernails and toenails.  Let’s first see if any apply to you.

  • Bacterial Infection – this type of infection is typically caused by Candida, a type of yeast. It may come on slowly and last for a few weeks, or show up suddenly and last for only one or two days.
  • Fungal Infection - Nail fungus is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor.
  • Vitamin Deficiencies - Vitamin or mineral deficiencies can cause nails to appear yellow. The most common culprits here are Biotin and Vitamin E
  • Smoking – Smoke rising from the cigarette when you hold it can cause some serious yellowing of your hands and nails. Not to mention, it can cause a pretty unpleasant odor.
  • Neglecting Your Feet – Toenails can start becoming yellow simply from neglect. Make sure you are airing your feet out, especially if you wear footwear for long periods of time. Also don’t forget to wash your feet in the shower. No, just letting the water run down your legs is not enough. Get in there and scrub those feet.  
  • More Serious Health Conditions – Yellow nails can also be a sign of something more serious. Thyroid, lung diseases, liver diseases, and diabetes can all cause some nail discoloration. If after trying some at-home treatments you don’t see any improvement go see your doctor. They will be able to test whether the yellow nails are due to fungus, bacteria, vitamin deficiency, or something more serious.

How to Get Rid of Yellow Fingernails and Toenails 

Now we're not doctors. So, if you're concerned or have any issues you should definitely see your doctor for a consultation. They will have a much better idea of your issue and will be able to prescribe stronger treatments to eliminate the yellow nails hopefully.

But regardless of your chosen course of action, it is important to act fast. If left untreated the nail bed could retract causing it to thicken and crumble. It also leaves you fingers more prone to infection, makes your hands more noticeable (not in a good way), and can even start to cause a very, shall we say, unpleasant odor. All of which, are definitely No Bueno!

Here are some easy at-home treatments to get your nail game back on track. Remember it can take up to a year to completely remove some causes of yellow nails, so the sooner you get started the better.

  • Biotin Supplements - Biotin is a B-complex vitamin, also known as vitamin B7, coenzyme R and vitamin H. It promotes healthy cell growth and aids in the metabolism of protein-building amino acids that are essential for nail growth. Biotin-rich foods and supplements may help strengthen your brittle fingernails. It’s also amazing for healthy hair. A win-win in our book!
  • Tea Tree Oil: is another easy treatment. The downside to tea tree oil is this one primarily works the best for fungal infections, not bacteria, like Oregano Oil. However, Tea Tree Oil, will be much easier to find. 
  • Baking Soda: Another common household product and an anti-fungal treatment. As fungus only grows in acidic environments, baking soda’s alkaline pH prevents the fungus from spreading. Soak your feet or toes in hot water mixed with baking soda will do the trick. After a few soaks, you should see your nails clearing up.
  • Over-the-counter Antifungal Nail Creams:  OTC creams like Lotrimin can effectively kill your nail fungus, and are regularly available at most grocery stores or local pharmacies. Application prior to bed is recommended since having your fingers and toes coated in cream could get in the way of the day-to-day activities. A strict application regiment is a sure-fire way to bring those nails back to life.
  • Hydrogen peroxide - Hydrogen peroxide has “oxidizing” abilities, which makes it a stain remover. Hydrogen peroxide goes deep into the nail and lightens the coloring, similar to the way that whitening strips applied to the teeth work. Mixing hydrogen peroxide into warm water and soaking the nails may improve the appearance of stains. Combining this one with the baking soda hack will make it even more effective. 
  • Medicated Nail Cream: If all else fails, it’s time to go see the Doc. Medicated nail creams are potent and will eliminate the problem fast. They do require a prescription however, so give the other options a shot first most likely, but it never hurts to ask your doctor. Most nail issues won’t require such powerful treatment if caught early.

How to Prevent Yellow Fingernails and Toenails

Eating right, taking your vitamins, cutting out the cigs; all are great ways to keep your nails looking healthy. However, when it comes to bueno nails, hygiene reigns supreme. Keeping your hands and feet clean is the most important part of maintaining perfect fingernails and toenails. Here’s a few steps to add to your grooming routine to ensure yellow nails is never an issue.

  • Wash Your Hands Frequently: Your hands are dirtier than you think, and can even be harboring bacteria that can lead to infection. A general rule of thumb here: If you are contemplating whether or not you should wash your hands, just wash them. Keep your hands and nails clean - it only takes a few minutes, and if you can't wash, sanitize!
  • Manicures and Pedicures: Keeping your fingernails and toenails trimmed and clean is a must to avoid discoloration and infection. Grab a manicure kit which should have all or most of the key tools necessary to take care of your hands and more. Start with the nail clipper going around the nail trimming. Then, take the nail file and smooth out the rough edges after the clipping, going around the contours of the nail. Use the cuticle nippers and pushers to protect and clean up the cuticle. Be careful here as the cuticle is very gentle.
  • Communal Shower Etiquette: Showers located in gyms, pools, and spas, in our opinion are better left alone. If possible, just wait until you get home to shower. However, if you’re in a pinch and need to use a communal shower, make sure to protect your feet, as these showers can be a breeding ground for fungi. Keeping a pair of cheap sandals in your car or gym bag is a great way to always make sure your feet are protected.
  • Use a Foot Powder or SprayFoot powders will not only keep your feet dry, but will also help to eliminate and prevent odor. Foot powders help to prevent fungal infections and can also help eliminate existing conditions like athlete’s foot. This can be easily applied after stepping out of the shower. Just give it some time to dry before tossing on your socks for the day.


Make sure to follow these simple tips and tricks to keep your nails looking amazing. People notice way more than you might think. Have them notice for all the right reasons.

Also Check Out:

How To Trim Your Eyebrows

How To Give Yourself A Manicure

The Flawless Shower Routine

A Guide To Perfect Sideburns

What Is Your Hair Type?

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