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Why are my nails turning yellow?

Updated: Feb 21

Beautiful and healthy nails are often seen as a reflection of our overall wellbeing. However, if you've noticed a yellowish tint on your nails, it can be a cause for concern. Yellow nails are a common issue that many people face, and they can be both unsightly and indicative of underlying health issues. In this piece, we will share:

  • What causes nails to turn yellow

  • How to prevent getting yellow nails

  • How to treat yellow nails

What causes nails to turn yellow?

There can be a number of reasons why nails turn yellow. It could be a sign of dehydration, or potentially a lack of vitamin D, which many of us don’t have sufficient levels of. Yellow nails can also be a result of not enough keratin in your body, which is a protein that’s responsible for making both your nails and hair strong. Try to include foods in your diet that are high in protein and healthy fats, such as eggs and salmon, as well as onion and sweet potatoes as their nutrients can help to boost keratin production.  

In addition to the above, if your footwear is rubbing on your nails too much then this could cause yellow discolouration.  Lastly, the one most people don’t want to hear, is that yellow nails can be the start of a fungal infection - it’s always worth booking an appointment with a Podiatrist to receive a diagnosis.

Are yellow nails a sign of liver problems?

This is a question that Podiatrists get asked more than you’d think. And the answer, in short, is maybe. If you have too much bilirubin in your body (a compound made during the breakdown of red blood cells), then yellow nails could possibly be a symptom of that as bilirubin has a yellowish pigment. To leave the body it has to pass through the liver to be broken down, and if bilirubin levels are high then it could indicate some liver problems. However this is usually accompanied by itchy skin as an additional symptom.  You can go to your GP and ask for a blood test if you’ve tried other options to treat yellow nails and they still remain.

How Do I Treat Yellow Nails?

Firstly, always dry your toes and nails thoroughly after a bath or shower. Make sure you are getting your towel in between each and every toe and around every nail bed, as whilst we want our nails to be hydrated through adequate water and food intake, a build up of water in the nails themselves isn’t good for them.

Get in touch with a Podiatrist as soon as you can to determine if the yellow nails are the result of a fungal or bacterial infection - or neither, yellow doesn’t always mean an infection!

Be sure to moisturise the nails with our best selling Cleansing &  Hydrating antibacterial and antifungal  nail drops as these will help to rehydrate and cleanse the nail plate  if dehydration is a factor.

And look into booking in for our signature treatment- The Footlift and  getting a medical pedicure for a deep clean of the nails and overall transformation of the feet. 

Before you go dashing to your nearest nail salon, a The Footlift and Medical Pedicure is NOT the same as a regular salon pedicure. Only registered Podiatrists can offer a medical pedicure in a clinical environment. It involves cleaning the feet and nails with a hydrogen peroxide gel, plus any callus removal. Think of it as the Dental Hygienist for your feet! With The Footlift and medical pedicure, your feet are treated by a highly qualified health professional that has medical training, who ensures that all equipment is sterile and single use. There are no risks of cross contamination as there are in a regular salon where you share a foot bath with the rest of the population.

How To Prevent Getting Yellow Nails In The First Place

As we just mentioned above, be careful about nail hygiene and if you’re going to a nail salon, be picky! Nail salons can be a breeding ground for fungal infections so always make sure your nail technician is using clean and sterilised equipment. 

When it comes to nail polish, use nail polish on the toes the way you use makeup. Meaning, only use it when you’re going out and then take it off when you get back. You wouldn’t leave makeup on when you go to sleep after a night out, and we recommend treating nail polish the same. 

If you are using nail polish for a longer period, on holiday for example, then use a base coat which is toluene and formaldehyde free, OPI and Nails Inc are examples of brands which are non toxic. Go for lighter colours instead of the darker ones; navy, burgundy, black and yellow should all be avoided on the nails.

Lastly, make sure your nails are  properly dry, moisturise your feet including the nails, and don’t wear shoes that are too shallow and lack depth as the shoes can rub on your nails and cause yellow discolouration as well as bruising.

Whilst yellow nails can be a cause for concern, with the expertise of your Podiatrist, you can identify the underlying causes and implement effective solutions. Whether it's addressing fungal infections with cold laser and regular foot treatments, taking a break from nail polish, or looking into blood tests with your GP, your Podiatrist at The Footlift London is your partner in achieving healthy and beautiful nails. Remember, early intervention and proper foot care can go a long way in maintaining the overall health of your feet and nails. If your nails are turning yellow, schedule a consultation with your our Podiatry team at The Footloft London Clinic Today for personalised care and guidance.

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