Yellow Nail Syndrome Causes: How to Get Rid of Yellow Nails, Treatment

Yellow nail syndrome is in some cases is also associated with sinus infections, as well as chronic bronchitis. However, this is not a common cause of yellow nails in many patients. It is good to learn about yellow nail syndrome so that you may know what is normal of your nails and what is not.

Below, let’s look at how to get rid of yellow nails that may be mild, severe or deep, what causes nails to turn yellow, whiten yellow nails, home remedies and treatment.

The condition can also be associated with the collection of fluids in the spaces surrounding the lungs, and in some cases, it could also be associated with dilation of the bronchi found in the human lungs.

How to get rid of yellow nails
How to get rid of yellow nails

Yellow nail syndrome can be described as a very rare disorder affecting the nails. This condition may be accompanied by swelling of different body parts that is caused by damage or blockage of the lymphatic system (lymphoedema).

Signs and symptoms

Often, the condition begins when a person is in their middle ages, even though there are similar conditions that have been described to occur in small children.

The signs and symptoms of yellow nail syndrome include:

1. Nail changes

The condition can affect all your nails, which will lead to some nails growing slowly, or failing to grow altogether.

Affected nails will also start to become thick, and may begin turning greenish-yellow or pale yellow in color, with the nail edges becoming a bit darker.

In many cases, your nails will remain smooth, but you may experience cross ridging as well as the loss of cuticles in all, or some of the nails.

2. Lymphoedema

According to recent studies, Lymphoedema will often take place in close to eighty percent of all patients with this condition, and it will often affect the functioning of their legs.

Swelling signs will often be seen after the nail changes have taken places, and in some cases, swelling may not be seen for a few months.

Areas that are not commonly affected by swelling include the genitals, hands, and face.

3. Respiratory signs

Respiratory signs can also be used to determine whether a person has this syndrome. It has been seen that close to thirty-six percent of all patients who have the syndrome may suffer from pleural effusions.

Pleural effusions have also been used to diagnose the presence of this syndrome in about thirty percent of patients who have been reported to have YNS.

yellow nail syndrome
yellow nail syndrome


In order for a physician to make a correct diagnosis of this condition, they will need to take a look at your medical history, perform a physical exam, conduct laboratory tests, as well as check your signs and symptoms.

To learn more about getting a diagnosis, it is recommended that you consult with your everyday health care provider for a detailed report on what is checked, and what is not checked.


Yellow nail syndrome has commonly been associated with autoimmune related disorders such as thyroiditis as well as malignancies such as breast cancer and gall bladder.

As a result, you will find that it has in some cases been described to patients who are suffering from AIDS and tuberculosis.

  • YNS is therefore considered to be a very challenging entity, and which often ends up being misdiagnosed. As such, an interdisciplinary approach is often recommended to assist in recognizing and collating the components of this syndrome in an accurate manner.

On correct diagnosis, the physician should be prompted to conduct further investigations for associated diseases and malignancies.

Causes of yellow nail syndrome

The precise cause of this condition has not been established, as most cases tend to be sporadic in nature. There are researchers who are of the belief that YNS is a sporadic, acquired condition, whereas there are other sources in the medical field who classify the condition as a genetic disorder.

Some of the factors believed to cause this condition include:

1. Lung disease

Lung disease has been associated with causing YNS because most of the patients reported to have this condition have been reported as having a chronic cough, lymphedema, as well as increased production of sputum.

  • Additionally, most of the patients have exhibited respiratory signs, which about thirty-six percent of YNS patients having pleural effusions.

It has also been noted that many YNS patients provide a history of chronic sinusitis, recurrent bronchitis attacks, as well as pneumonia, adding to the theory that lung disease is one of the primary causes.

2. Fungus

Nail fungus is associated with YNS primarily because of the fact that one of the early signs of an infection is the yellow discoloration of the nails.

  • Once fungus has become embedded in the nails, it may end up producing varying pigments, which may end up coloring your nails yellow.

Eventually, you may notice additional symptoms such as nail flaking, if the cause of the yellowing is fungal in nature. If this is the case, a visit to the doctor will be in order so as to get an oral antifungal medication.

Nail Fungal infections
Nail Fungal infections

3. Nail polish

Healthy toenails and fingernails are generally pinkish in color, with a good and healthy nail plate being pink, while the nail is white in color.

  • Fingernail conditions and color are not always the first indication that a person has a serious condition such as yellow nail syndrome.

In many cases, a patient will first show other symptoms before the nail changes become evident, especially, for people who like to paint their nails using nail polish.

  • Therefore, when your nails begin changing their color, without you having painted them, then this may be an indication that you have YNS. When you overuse nail polish, you increase your chances of developing this condition.

It is recommended that you allow your nails enough time to breathe before applying nail polish once again. Allow them to rest for a few days and then reapply the polish.

4. Vitamin deficiency

Lacking biotin or vitamin H is unlikely to be the primary cause of this condition, though the nails could begin to show the effects of a vitamin deficiency.

Biotin is vital as it ensures that the nails remain in top condition at all times. As such, you will find that consuming anticonvulsants and antibiotics for a lengthy period of time may lead to a vitamin deficiency in the body.

When you do not have enough biotin in your body, the body may start causing splitting, thin, and brittle fingernails. You should therefore consider locating new dietary sources of this vitamin such as eggs, nuts, and sardines.

Ensure you do not ingest supplements without first consulting your physician.

How to get rid of yellow nails

A majority of us suffer from the yellow nail syndrome. It is a condition that affects both genders, and which can be a major source of embarrassment.

  • In many cases, especially among the women, the syndrome is caused by overusing nail polish. You will find that the pigments used in making the nail polish, more so the darker shades may end up staining the nails as time goes by.

To ensure that you will not end up with yellow nails from using nail polish, you can prevent it from happening by always applying a base coat prior to using your favorite nail polish.

  • Apart from nail polish, additional causes of discoloration include excessive smoking, fungal infections, poor lifestyle habits, and chronic liver disease.

For people with yellow nails, the good news is that there are home remedies that they can use to get rid of this discoloration, and do away with the embarrassment for the last time.

The remedies include:

1. Lemon

Traditionally, lemon is a bleaching agent, which can be used to effectively cleanse off the yellow stains that may be present on the nails. Lemon juice has also been known to function as an astringent.

What to do at home

  1. Take a bowl and fill it up to the halfway mark with lemon juice. Place the yellow stained nails into the lemon juice for between ten and fifteen minutes.
  2. Find a soft toothbrush and use it to gently scrub the discoloration from all the nails that are affected. When this is done, use lukewarm water to rinse off your hands, before proceeding to apply a moisturizing lotion meant to help in replenishing the moisture that had been lost.
  3. Ensure you repeat the process daily
  4. Another option is to use an essential oil that contains lemon.
  5. You should pour a small amount of lemon essential oil into a shallow bowl that has been filled with lukewarm water, and then dip your fingertips into the water for a few minutes.
  6. You will need to use a soft brush in scrubbing the fingertips.
  7. Make sure to repeat this particular step at least two times a day until you notice the fingertips begin to whiten

    Lemon will help get rid of yellow nails
    Lemon will help get rid of yellow nails

2. Hydrogen peroxide

It contains whitening properties that are known to work wonders on nails that are stained. When choosing a solution, ensure that the solution only contains three percent of hydrogen peroxide.

What to do at home

  1. Pour four teaspoons of peroxide into half a cup of water and ensure that they are properly combined
  2. Dip the nails affected by the yellow nail syndrome into the solution for at least two minutes
  3. You will then need to obtain a soft brush, which you will use to scrub the nails before rinsing them with warm water
  4. Affected patients should repeat the process once each week for the next few months
  5. If you have stubborn stains, do not dilute the peroxide, but instead apply it directly to the affected nails, and then use the soft brush to scrub them gently.

It is important to note that hydrogen peroxide may have a dehydrating effect on the nails, and as such, you need to ensure that you apply a moisturizer immediately after using it to clean the nails.

3. Baking soda

Baking soda contains exfoliating and bleaching properties that helps in removing tough stains from the fingernails.

What to do at home one

  1. Combine two teaspoons of baking soda and a single teaspoon of three percent hydrogen peroxide in a small mixing bowl
  2. Obtain cotton swabs and use them to apply this mixture to all the nails that have been stained by the yellow nail syndrome.
  3. The blend should be left on the fingernails for about three minutes before using warm water to rinse it off.
  4. The process should be repeated after every eight weeks

What to do at home two

  1. Combine a single teaspoon of baking soda, a single teaspoon of olive oil, and a single teaspoon of lemon juice
  2. Stir them well to ensure that they form a very thick paste
  3. Obtain a soft toothbrush and use it to rub the mixture into the fingernails
  4. Allow the blend to stay on affected fingers for at least five minutes and then use warm water to rinse the fingers
  5. Ensure you repeat the remedy after every two weeks

4. Whitening toothpaste

The toothpaste you rely on to make the teeth whiter can also be used in removing the yellowish looking stains from the nails.

People with mild stains can rely on the toothpaste that comes with a whitening ingredient such as hydrogen peroxide.

What to do at home

  1. Obtain the whitening toothpaste and apply a small coat of it on the affected nails ensuring you leave it there for not less than ten minutes
  2. Use a nail brush to scrub the nails very gently
  3. Soak cotton balls into warm water and use them to wash the toothpaste from the fingernails
  4. Try and repeat this process at least three times each week

5. Denture cleaning tablets

Another ingredient that can be used in cleaning stained nails is the denture cleaning tablets. The tablets contain citric acid and sodium bicarbonate, two of the ingredients used in dealing with all types of stubborn stains.

What to do at home

  1. Take two of these tablets and dissolve them in a bowl that has been filled with warm water
  2. Take all the nails that are stained and dip them into the water for at least fifteen minutes
  3. Use a towel to pat the nails dry, and ensure that you apply a moisturizer on the hands once they are dry
  4. Ensure you repeat the cleansing process two times each week for the next one month


6. Tea tree oil

If the yellowing of your nails can be traced back to a fungal infection, then you will need to rely on tea tree oil to remove the stains.

Apart from being a great home remedy, the oil is a natural fungicide that contains antimicrobial and antiseptic properties vital for use in fighting infections, as well as restoring the natural nail color.

What to do at home

  1. Use an eye dropper to apply the tea tree oil drops to the affected nails
  2. Allow the oil to stay on the nails for five minutes and then use warm water to rinse the nails.
  3. This process should be repeated two times each day for a few months until an improvement has been noticed.


  1. Combine equal amounts of olive and tea tree oil
  2. Use a cotton ball to apply this solution to your fingernails
  3. Ensure you repeat application at least two times each day for a few months

7. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar comes with acetic and malic acid both of which are vital in helping reduce nail discoloration.

ACV also comes with antifungal properties that can be used in treating any type of nail infection that may result in staining of the nails.

Additionally, apple cider vinegar also assists in strengthening the nails, while stimulating their growth.

What to do at home

  1. Combine half a cup of lukewarm water with half a cup of apple cider vinegar
  2. Take the nails affected by the yellow nail syndrome and dip them in the solution for at least twenty minutes
  3. Use a soft towel to pat the nails dry
  4. Repeat the process three times each day for at least four weeks

8. Listerine

It is another highly effective home remedy that can be used to treat nails that have been discolored by fungal infections.

It comes with ingredients such as thymol and menthol, both of which contain vital antifungal properties.

What to do at home

  1. Take the nails that are affected and dip them in Listerine for half an hour
  2. Repeat application once each day, and then take a seven-day break, before repeating the following week.
  3. It is common for the skin around your nails to turn green before disappearing on its own within a couple of days


  1. Combine equal portions of vinegar and Listerine
  2. The affected nails should be soaked in the vinegar and Listerine solution for thirty minutes
  3. Ensure you repeat this process each day until you begin to see a change in the color of your nails

9. Orange peel

An orange peel comes with high amounts of vitamin C, a vital ingredient in the removal of stains from the nails.

What to do at home

  1. Use an orange peel to rub the finger nails at least three times a day for a few weeks
  2. Alternatively, you can combine two teaspoons of
    Lemon will help get rid of yellow nails
    Lemon will help get rid of yellow nails

    dried orange peel powder with water to create a paste. The paste should be applied and left on the fingernails for at least ten minutes before a soft brush can be used to remove it.

  3. Use warm water to rinse your fingertips.
  4. The remedy should be applied two times each day

10 . Juniper berries

They function as a very strong disinfectant, and can be used in removing stains from the discolored nails, especially when the discoloration has been caused by fungal infections

What to do at home

  1. Add a single teaspoon of crushed juniper berries to a mixing bowl filled with water
  2. All the nails that have been affected by the yellow nail syndrome should be dipped in the water for fifteen minutes
  3. Rinse your fingers using lukewarm water and then proceed to apply a moisturizer
  4. Apply the remedy each night before heading to bed for the next few months

11. Vicks for yellow nail syndrome

Vicks is often used in clearing chest congestions as well as relieving nasal congestions. However, it has proven to be a reliable remedy for use when dealing with yellow nail syndrome.

The vapor is prepared from ingredients such as camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. All these ingredients come with antimicrobial and antifungal properties.

What to do at home

  1. Take your Vicks vapor and rub it on all the fingernails that are discolored
  2. Repeat application of the vapor two times each day
  3. Follow the remedy for a few months without fail until you notice a change in the color of the nails

Once you have used these remedies to get rid of the yellow nail syndrome, you should be able to start flaunting your beautiful nails within a few weeks.

You may also like how to get rid of white spots on nails

Treatment of yellow nail syndrome

The nail care business is big the world over. In the United States alone, there are over fifty thousand pedicurists and manicurists, meaning that a person does not have to travel far to have someone attend t their nails.

  • It is, therefore ironic to find out that having the nails polished to look good may be the cause of the yellow stains. This is mainly attributed to the pigments that are used in making the nail polish, as they may leave your nails stained with continued use.

However, the great news is that it is possible to use whitening solutions created using over the counter ingredients to get rid of the yellow stains.

  • Common ingredients needed to create a whitening solution, and which may already be available in the medicine cabinet include baking soda, denture cleaning tablets, as well as hydrogen peroxide.

All these are great choices you can use in getting rid of the yellow stains. They are gentle on the fingers, which mean that you will not have to deal with any side effects. If you do not like the results, you could rely on a nail whitening pencil to help lighten your fingertips, which will also provide them with a bright and clean look.

All the remedies that have been discussed above are great for helping eliminate the stains on your fingers, but if you experience any irritation with a particular remedy, you should discontinue its use immediately.

Here is a video on how to get rid of yellow nails syndrome and whiten nails at home



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