A variety of conditions or diseases may cause toenails to turn yellow; solving the condition may be as simple as using and removing dark nail polish on your toes, which may create a stain when you remove the polish. In most cases though, yellow toenails are an indication of a fungal infection, which is the most common cause. Other reasons for yellow nails include diabetes, yellow nail syndrome, or lymphedema (chronic leg swelling).
At the first sign of discoloration, you should seek medical attention from your Rockville podiatrist. If you aren’t already an established patient with a podiatry office in Rockville MD, then feel free to call us at The Podiatry Center. This way, you can begin immediate treatment and prevent further damage. Yellow toenails can affect anyone, but most people who experience this condition are between the ages of 20–70. Athletes of all ages may also be susceptible to toenail and foot problems, including discoloration.
Fungal infections are typically the result of personal habits, such as wearing shoes made of non-breathable materials (like plastic) that allow sweat to mix with bacteria. Other causes include walking barefoot in wet public places or not allowing your toenails and feet to air out. Fungi grow in warm, moist, dark places like close-toed shoes. A fungal infection may be accompanied by a thickening of the nail and a raised appearance, as well as the nail becoming brittle and weak or beginning to crumble and flake. Wearing the same shoes every day, especially if you sweat excessively and do not allow your shoes to air out between uses, can also promote fungal and bacterial infections.
The best way to return your toenails to their natural color will depend on the cause of the discoloration. For example, if your nails are stained from polish, you may have to wait until the nail grows out to restore the natural color. If your discoloration is a result of diabetes, you may need to gain control over your condition before you see improvements in the rest of your body.
If you have a fungal infection, there are several treatment options available. Our top-rated podiatrist at The Podiatry Center can determine the proper treatment method for you based on the severity and extent of the infection. Mild infections may be treated with a medicated nail polish, which you apply for six to nine months until the infection is gone (typically, this takes about a year). More severe infections may require oral antifungal medications; extreme cases may result in surgery.
Yellow toenails usually do not go away on their own. At the first sign of a fungal infection – or if you have questions about yellow toenails and their cause – contact your Rockville podiatrist or call us at The Podiatry Center to find out more about treatment options, including over-the-counter products that may benefit you.
The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to foot and ankle care, feel free to contact The Podiatry Center, with a convenient podiatry office location near Rockville MD, by clicking here or by calling 301.656.6055.