Do you have toenails which are turning yellow? This could be a sign of trouble. There is a condition called yellow nail syndrome which is a rare condition. There are also situations in which harmless bacteria are colonizing (gathering) which will turn the nail different colors. This will usually result in the nail turning green.
The most common cause of nails turning yellow to brown in color is a result of fungal infections. When fungi are producing and growing, they produce pigments which are colored. Let us take a look at one example.
When penicillium produces and grows, the pigments commonly seen are deep green in color. This is the same fungi which produces penicillin. Fungi which are commonly seen in nails will usually produce a yellow to brown colored pigmentation.
If you have yellow toenails, it is important to see your physician to determine if you are dealing with a fungal infection. A medical diagnosis can be made for you officially. Physicians are familiar with toenail fungal infections, as they are a very common occurrence. He, or she, will be able to make a diagnosis for this condition as well as for others which are commonly seen with “yellowed nails.”
In some cases, the physician may desire to take a very small piece of the nail and send it to the laboratory. This is done to confirm any diagnosis being made as well as determining the best treatment option. A variety of tests can be used in this situation within the lab setting.
When yellowing of the nail occurs, it may not be uniform in color. In other words, you may see the color is inconsistent throughout the nail. Yellowing toenails may be seen on one nail, or several. The fungus may be growing in only part of the nail, or the entire nail. “Streaking” of yellow color may be seen as well.
Treatment will help to gain control over the fungus. If a nail is partially infected and left untreated, it can cause the whole nail to become infected (if it is not already). Infection may be seen in the nail which progresses toward the root. Earlier treatment is much better than waiting to treat the infection. If the infection involves the lunula, or white crescent moon shape, near the cuticle – it becomes more difficult to treat.
Treatment comes in a variety of forms when handling yellowing nails. Your primary care doctor may decide to prescribe you an oral medication which is taken by mouth for the infection. Medication by mouth may be required for several months to a year, depending on the infection. Oral medications can be very expensive and insurance coverage may vary. The side effects from oral medications can also differ by person and the specific medication used.
Topical agents (such as ZetaClear) are also available for those interested in trying an alternative course of action. Topical agents come in different forms. Some are available which are painted on the nails like nail polish. This method can only be used on the yellow nails, which do not involve infection in the area of the lunula.