The Real Reason Your Fingernails Are Turning Yellow

While it may be fun to paint your nails different colors, it doesn't look so great when your nails themselves begin to turn yellow. Discolored nails may be a sign of a number of health issues. Alternatively, sometimes simply the use of darker shades of nail polish can tint the nail's natural color if left on for long periods of time and can lead to discoloration (via Healthline). If this is the case, as your nails grow out, you should notice the new nail returning to its prior pink or clear hue. However, if the new nail remains yellow, there may be something more to it.

Infection, nail fungus, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or allergic reactions can all lead to nail discoloration. In some instances, yellow fingernails can be a symptom of some medical conditions like psoriasis, diabetes, a thyroid condition, or even skin cancer. Another medical condition, known as yellow nail syndrome, is defined by the National Organization for Rare Disorders as, "an extremely rare disorder characterized by malformations affecting the fingernails and toenails, [and] abnormalities affecting the lungs and the airways (respiratory tract)." 

How to get rid of yellow nails

If nail polish staining is to blame for your yellow fingernails, experts suggest stopping the use of the product for at least a week to allow nails to grow back clear and healthy (via Medical News Today). If the cause of yellow nails is a fungal infection, both topical and oral antifungal medications are available to treat it. When yellow nails are the result of an underlying health condition, consult with your doctor regarding a treatment plan for the condition as the best way to restore nails to their original color.

There are also several home remedies that may help improve the appearance of yellow fingernails. Soaking your nails in a mixture of hot water and baking soda, for example, can help prevent fungus from spreading and leave your nails looking clearer. You can also try mixing tea tree oil or oregano oil with a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil, and swab the solution over the affected area. Vinegar, or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and hot water, may also improve nail color. Finally, including more vitamin E in your diet may also help protect your nails from discoloration.