Yellow nails

Your fingernails are not only a barometer of your general health state, sometimes they can also signal the presence of a medical problem! Why do nails turn yellow? And how to discriminate yellow nails from the ‘yellow nail syndrome’?

Yellow fingernails are often the result of behavior habits: such as smoking, nail polish, cooking with curry, nail fungus, or the use of certain types of medication (e.g. tetracycline).

YELLOW NAILS DUE TO A MEDICAL PROBLEM? 

But sometimes nails may take a yellowish teint which is not the result of behavior. Fingernails that are yellow can be an indication of a medical disorder in some cases. These include liver disease, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and nutritional deficiencies, most notably iron and zinc. Although most cases of yellow nails are not caused by an internal disorder, underlying medical problems should be ruled out if your nails have suddenly changed in color. Simple blood tests can generally rule out most causes of a yellow fingernail.

YELLOW NAIL SYNDROME?

The ‘yellow nail syndrome‘ is a rare nail disorder characterized by yellow to yellow-green, thickening, slowgrowing nail changes – with absent lunula and cuticle: see the picture below. The underlying pathological process if thought to be related to impaired lymphatic drainage.

THE NAIL TUTOR DESCRIBES THE MOST COMMON CAUSES
FOR YELLOWISH DISCOLORATION OF VARIOUS PARTS
OF THE NAIL UNIT:

YELLOW FREE EDGEYELLOW HYPONYCHIUM
YELLOW LATERAL FOLDYELLOW LUNULA

 Example of the yellow nail syndrome:
 

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FINGERNAIL
DISORDERS:

Blue nail moons - a.k.a. 'Azur lunulae', bluish lunula.

Blue lunula

 

How to recognize ‘blue lunulae’?

A blue (purple) lunula is characterized by a bluish color of the nail moon (notice: the nail moon usually has a ‘whitish’ color).

Common causes for a blue nail moon:

In general blue nail moons are an indiation for circulatory problems (cold weather may be a part of the cause), or a lack of oxygen (smoking and/or obesity might play a role in this!).

More rare causes blue lunulae can be:

A drug’s side-effect;

Wilson’s disease (genetic disorder in which copper accumulates in tissues);

Argyria (a condition caused by improper exposure to chemical forms of silver);

If the condition persists, it would be wise to consult the opinion of a doctor – for, even though this is a clinical sign of a simple condition, the cause can actuallly be more severe as well.

MORE DETAILS: THE COLOR & SHAPE OF THE LUNUA:
Do you have a lunula nail disorder?

PHOTO – Where to find the lunula, a.k.a. the’nail moon’:

Where to find the lunula ('nail moon')?

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING:
The FINGERNAIL TUTOR: an online nail disorder identification tool!
20 Common nail disorders!
More reports about nail disorders!
More hand & fingernail facts!