Many people suffer from having yellow toenails. This condition occurs among both women and men and should not be ignored.
While nail polish often causes yellow toenails, another culprit that may be behind this foot problem is fungi.
According to a study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 3 to 12 percent of the population suffers from fungal infections. In addition to the affected nail turning yellow in color, it may become thicker, brittle, and change shape. Also referred to as “onychomycosis,” nail fungus develops at the side edge, front, or beneath the nail. Big toenails are commonly affected, and the infection may spread to other nails if not treated immediately.
What are the causes of yellow toenails?
Yellow toenails caused by fungal infection are not usually painful. But without proper treatment, it can become painful to wear shoes, stand or walk. Fungi grow best in moist, dark, and warm places as these microscopic organisms do not need sunlight to live.
That includes socks, stockings, shoes, and area around the toes. Fungi are hard to kill, so it is important to treat toenail fungus right away before it gets worse. According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, perspiring heavily is also one of the risk factors that can increase the possibility of getting toenail fungus.
Those who are working in a moist or humid environment are also exposed to fungal infection. Wearing shoes and socks that do not absorb perspiration and prevent ventilation are also some of the causes of fungal infection.
People may develop toenail fungus due to reduced blood flow and slower growing nails. Older people are more likely to have this infection than younger people. Having diabetes, weak immune system, nail or skin injury and skin condition like psoriasis may contribute to the development of toenail fungus.
Living with someone who has an athlete’s foot or nail infection can also increase your risk of getting fungus. Walking barefoot in damp public areas like gyms, swimming pools and shower rooms expose your skin and toenails to fungi that may be present on the floor.
Other symptoms to look out for:
The most common cause of yellow toenails is a fungal infection. Other signs and symptoms of toenail fungus are:
- Yellow streaks on the underside of the nail or in the nail bed.
- Powdery and soft nail surface.
- Crumbly, damaged, brittle, or thickened nail.
- Dirt and nail fragments build up under the nail.
- Dull nail without shine.
- The affected nail detaching from the nail bed.
If you have developed these symptoms, chances are you have toenail fungus. It is important to treat the infection as soon as possible as it may take more than a year to eliminate fungi completely. Getting rid of the underlying cause properly is the only way to keep the infection from reoccurring.
Treatments for Yellow Toenails Caused by Fungus
Some home remedies to treat the affected nail include:
1. Baking Soda
The exfoliating and bleaching properties of baking soda are useful for removing stains. This staple is also effective in treating toenail fungus. Simply mix one-half cup of baking soda with four cups of hot water.
Add one-half cup of Epsom salt, one-fourth cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and one-fourth cup of white vinegar. Soak the affected nails in this solution for at least ten minutes before rinsing off with clean water. Repeat this treatment twice a day.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil contains antiseptic and antifungal properties that can cure toenail infection. According to Web MD, this oil is commonly used for treating athlete’s foot, mild fungal nail infections, vaginal yeast infections, minor cuts, and burns.
To treat your nails with this oil, mix a few drops of it with one teaspoon of coconut or olive oil. Apply the mixture on the infected nails using a cotton ball. Leave it on for at least ten minutes before scrubbing the nail with a toothbrush. For best results, follow this treatment three times a day.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is acidic, making it one of the best home remedies for toenail fungus. Simply mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar with water in a foot basin and soak your toenails in this solution for 30 minutes.
Repeat this treatment daily to clear the infection successfully. Alternatively, you can mix apple cider vinegar with ground rice flour to make an exfoliating scrub.
4. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice contains both antifungal and antiseptic properties that can help in halting toenail fungus from spreading. To treat, fill a small basin with fresh lemon juice or add a few drops of lemon essential oil in a bowl filled with water.
Soak your toenails in it for fifteen minutes and scrub the area using a soft toothbrush. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. Follow this remedy twice a day until the infection is gone.
5. Oregano Oil
When it comes to essential oils for toenail fungus, tea tree oil and oregano oil are the best. It has antiseptic, antiviral, analgesic and antifungal properties that can treat the infection effectively. Simply mix two drops of oregano oil with one teaspoon of olive oil and apply this mixture to the infected nails. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off. Repeat this treatment twice daily for positive results.
Additional Tips to Clear the Infection
During your treatment with the methods mentioned above, follow these useful tips to speed up the healing process of your toenails.
- Keep your feet clean and dry. Wear absorbent socks and fitting shoes for proper air circulation.
- Reduce or eliminate sugar, grain, sweet fruits, and alcohol intake as these foods contribute to fungus overgrowth. Instead, eat more foods rich in healthy bacteria, such as kefir and yogurt. Consume more colorful vegetables, garlic, cultured dairy, or fermented foods and high-quality proteins.
- Apply topical treatments daily to successfully clear fungal infection.
The issue is usually caused by fungal infection and it can take up to one year to get rid of yellow toenails. It is important to apply proper treatment immediately and consistency to stop the infection from spreading. Consult your doctor to get antifungal medication and give these home remedies a try too for at least two months to see great results. With patience and persistence, you can get rid of fungal infection and yellow discoloration.