Yellow Nails: Causes and Prevention

Yellowing of the nail can be caused by several factors including: nail prepping, smoking, nail fungus or even more serious health issues.  But how do we prevent it from happening?  It all depends on the root cause of the yellowing!

Nail Prepping

Sometimes our nail polishes can cause staining of the nail due to either the type of nail coloring or from prolonged wear.  An effortless way to prevent staining, is by first applying a clear base coat.  This will not only help keep the polish from chipping, but it will also act as a barrier between your nail and the polish itself.

Traditional acetone to remove your polish can also exacerbate the yellowing of your nails.  As an alternative, consider using a non-acetone polish remover, such as Dr.’s Remedy polish remover*, which is free of acetone, but also enriched with wheat protein, tea tree oil and garlic bulb (all good things for our nails)!


If you smoke cigarettes, you may notice a yellowing of not only your teeth and fingers, but also your nails! It is the nicotine in cigarettes that cause this yellowing.  A few things that you can do to prevent the yellowing of your nails would be to: switch to using a cigarette holder or vaporizer or quit smoking all together.

Nail Fungus

Many times, people will continually apply polish to hide yellow nails, but sometimes it could be a sign of a fungal infection.  Toenail fungus’ first sign is yellow nails, followed by brittle or thick nails. If you think your nails may be yellow due to a fungal infection contact your podiatrist.  Though there are over-the-counter treatments available to treat fungal infections, prescription remedies tend to be more effective.  Your doctor may prescribe an oral anti-fungal medication or suggest a non-invasive anti-fungal laser treatment.

Serious Health Issues

Another good reason to reach out to your doctor if you have yellowing of the nails, is because it could be a sign of other health issues such as liver or lung problems, or a mineral deficiency.

Let’em Breathe

Traditional nail polish tends to trap moisture under the polish, which can lead to yellowing of the nail or infections.  Give your nails a breather once in a while. Take breaks between polish applications and when you do use a polish, consider using something with added benefits like Dr.’s Remedy polish*.  It contains lavender, garlic bulb, tea tree oil (all good things for your nails) and does not include formaldehyde, toluene, camphor just to name a few (all bad things for your nails).

Don’t ignore the signs of yellowing nails. Explore the potential causes for your yellow nails and implement these tips to prevent the yellowing of them.  If you think you may have a toenail fungus infection, call Dr. Hollander, DPM today to discuss your treatment options at (707) 578-1222.

*Available for purchase in our office.