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Why Do Toenails Turn Yellow?

Yellow ToenailsYellowing of the toenails is a fairly common complaint, especially among the elderly. Despite how common this problem is, many people still find themselves asking the question, “Why do toenails turn yellow?”. The truth is that there is not just one answer to this question. In fact, there are several things that can lead to yellowing of the toenails.

Common Reason Why Toenails Turn Yellow

Advancing age. Many people notice that the toenails take on a yellowish color as they get older. While this often occurs as the direct result of an infection or injury, it may also be a natural part of the aging process. The nails grow slower as one ages, and it is common for them to lose their previously healthy appearance.

Onychomycosis. Most commonly referred to simply as a fungal nail infection, onychomycosis is one of the most common causes of yellowing of the toenails. Though relatively unheard of in children, it affects a large percentage of adults and a very high percentage of the geriatric community. In addition to yellowing of the nail, most people with fungal infections also experience thickening of the nail, brittleness or splitting. When left untreated, these infections can cause severe pain or other complications, especially in patients with weakened immune systems. Nail fungus can easily be picked up in most any warm, moist environment. Some of the most common include locker rooms and community pools. They can also occur as the result of wearing closed shoes that do not allow adequate airflow.

Injury. Injury is another very common cause of yellowing of the nail. If you recently dropped something heavy on your foot or stubbed a toe, and now the nail appears yellow, bruising underneath the nail may be to blame. Mild bruising usually clears up on its own in a fairly short amount of time. More severe injuries take longer, and the nail may fall off as part of the healing process.

Liver disease. If your liver is not functioning properly, it may make your nails appear yellow. Poor liver function will also cause yellowing of the eyes and skin. If you notice either of these symptoms along with yellowing of the nails, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Because there are so many possible causes, it is difficult to answer the question, “Why do toenails turn yellow?”. Though there are some causes that are more common than others, yellowing of the nails can still have many explanations. In any case, it is a sign that the nail or the underlying tissue is not healthy. As a result, it is important to seek medical attention to rule out anything serious, especially if the yellowing occurs suddenly or if it is accompanied by other symptoms. Your doctor will be able to diagnose the cause of the symptoms and prescribe the method of treatment that is most likely to work in your unique case.

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