How do I Treat Yellow Toenails?

Lucinda Reynolds

Yellow toenails are usually caused by a fungus. This fungus gets beneath the toenail and causes the nail to become brittle. In some cases, the toenail will crack and separate from the nail bed. The treatment methods for yellow toenail fungus will depend upon the severity of the infection. An individual who has a history of nail fungus should learn nail-fungus-prevention methods to keep his toenails healthy.

People should only get pedicures at professional salons that sterilize their equipment to help avoid the fungus that often causes yellow toenails.
People should only get pedicures at professional salons that sterilize their equipment to help avoid the fungus that often causes yellow toenails.

Anti-fungal creams or lotions may be prescribed for toenail infections that are mild or moderate. These creams are rubbed on the affected toenails and the surrounding skin. The anti-fungal creams can keep the fungus from spreading to other toenails. Most of these anti-fungal creams are available only by prescription.

Yellow toenails are usually caused by a fungus.
Yellow toenails are usually caused by a fungus.

If the anti-fungal creams do not work or if the toenail infection is moderate to severe, oral medications are usually used to treat yellow toenails. These medications must be prescribed by a doctor. An individual who is placed on oral medications to treat a toenail infection must be monitored by his doctor closely to avoid developing dangerous side effects. Oral medications are usually the most effective way to treat yellow toenails.

Nail fungus can return even after successful treatment with oral or topical medications. Sometimes the recurrence of yellow toenails will be the result of a new infection. If the previous toenail infection involved the big toe, the recurrence is most likely coming from the original fungi. It is best to take the necessary steps to prevent yellow toenail fungus from coming back.

Toenail infections that will not go away or infections that keep coming back may need a more drastic treatment. In some cases, the doctor may decide to remove the toenail completely and treat the nail bed and surrounding skin. When the toenail grows back there should be no more problem with yellow toenails.

Individuals who have a problem with yellow toenails must keep their feet dry. Fungi thrives in a warm and moist environment. It is important to wear cotton socks when wearing enclosed shoes. Sandals should be worn in the summer to keep the feet dry. If an individual has yellow toenails and diabetes, good foot care is extremely important to prevent a more severe infection.

Shower shoes must be worn in all public shower rooms or pool areas. Individuals should not share socks or shoes with each other. Pedicures should be performed only in salons that use sterile instruments because nail fungus can live on these pedicure tools. It is important that great care is taken not to injure the toenails. Just one small cut on the toe can allow a nail fungus to enter.

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Discussion Comments


My friend claims that he treated his yellow, cracked toenails with apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. Has anyone tried these? Do they really work?

I know that nail fungus is very hard to get rid of. Sometimes it takes several courses of anti-fungal medications to get rid of them because they keep coming back. So I haven't really considered natural remedies. I don't feel like these remedies would be strong enough.


@turquoise-- Toenails usually don't turn yellow unless there is an infection. Are you sure that you don't have fungus? Do you have thick, yellow, flaky toenails? You might want to see your doctor if you haven't yet just to confirm that there is no infection. Because if infection is the cause, no matter what you do, you won't be able to get rid of them without anti-fungal medications.

By the way, do you wear nail polish a lot? Or do you always wear closed shoes? I've heard that those who always wear nail polish or closed shoes will get yellow toenails because the nails aren't getting enough air. Stop wearing nail polish and expose your feet to air as much as possible.


I don't have toenail fungus, I just have yellow toenails. How can I whiten them? They look so ugly and I'm ashamed of showing my feet.

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