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:

Onycholysis is the detachment of the fingernail from the nail bed.

Onycholysis usually starts at the distal part and is featured with a discoloration of the nail plate.

Onycholysis

 

What is onycholysis?

Onycholysis concerns the (painless) loosening of the nail plate from the nail bed. This nail condition is usually featured with a changing color in the distal part of fingernail – often turning whitish (white nails) or yellowish (yellow nails), reflecting the presence of air under the fingernail plate.

What causes onycholysis?

Onycholysis is often a harmless nail condition caused by a nail trauma/injury – in general you can reduce the risk for having this nail condition by keeping your nails short (and dry)!

Less common causes of onycholysis are:

Skin conditions, such as psoriasis or lichen planus;
Medical conditions, such as thyroid dysfunction;
Fungal infections;
Side-effects of medication;
Adverse effects of chemicals, such as nail polish remover;
Prolonged immersion in water.

What is the treatment for onycholysis?

The treatment for onlycholysis is simple when caused by a nail trauma/injury: trim the nail short, do not clean under the nail, and be patient. It generally takes 2 to 3 months to clear up.

In other cases you must try to ‘tackle’ the cause.

THE TREATMENT OF THIS FINGERNAIL DISORDER:
Onycholysis – also known as a ‘loosening nail plate’

PHOTO – An example of ‘onycholysis’ featured with various colors:

Onycholysis - loosening of fingernails.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING:
Find the cause of your nail problem in 3 steps!
Common disorders in the fingernail & toe nail!
Koilonychia – causes + treatment of the ‘spoon nail’
Leukonychia – having ‘white spots’ on your fingernails (white nails)