18 July, 2011
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At Healthfully, we strive to deliver objective content that is accurate and up-to-date. Our team periodically reviews articles in order to ensure content quality. The sources cited below consist of evidence from peer-reviewed journals, prominent medical organizations, academic associations, and government data.
- Medline Plus: Nail Abnormalities
- MayoClinic.com; Nail Fungus; September 2010
- Centers for Disease Control: Foot Problems -- Take Charge of Your Diabetes
The information contained on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a professional health care provider. Please check with the appropriate physician regarding health questions and concerns. Although we strive to deliver accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee to that effect is made.
Does a Vitamin Deficiency Cause Yellow Toenails?
The condition of your fingernails and toenails can be an indicator of health problems in some cases. Yellow toenails could be caused by fungus, a bacterial infection or nail polish staining, but they are typically not caused by a vitamin deficiency. Deficiency in vitamin H, or biotin, may cause problems with the toenails, as can diabetes and other health issues. If you notice a difference in your toenails, especially if you have diabetes or if they are painful, see your doctor.
One common cause of yellow toenails is nail fungus. This condition is not caused by a vitamin deficiency but by a weakened immune system, potentially caused by a poor diet, which could make you more prone to developing nail fungus. Fungus grows on toenails because the area tends to stay moist, especially if you usually wear socks and shoes. Symptoms include discoloration and crumbling, thickened and dull nails. Home remedies may work, and they include soaking in vinegar and rubbing medicated ointment on your nails. Anti-fungal sprays are unlikely to be effective, so if you suspect nail fungus, see your doctor for treatment.
Deficiency in vitamin H, or biotin, is unlikely to cause yellow toenails, but your nails may show the effects of your deficiency. Biotin helps keep your nails in good condition. Taking antibiotics or anti-convulsants for a long period of time can cause a deficiency. Not having enough biotin in your body can cause thin, splitting and brittle finger and toenails. Dietary sources of this vitamin include eggs, sardines and nuts. If you suspect a deficiency, you can also get biotin from a B-complex multivitamin. Do not take any supplements without talking to your doctor first.
Any changes in your toenails must be reported to your doctor right away if you have diabetes. You are more prone to foot troubles, including yellow or cracked toenails, if you have diabetes, because the disease can cause problems with your nerves and circulation. See your podiatrist four times per year or at the frequency that he suggests. In the meantime, if you see yellowing or thickening of your toenails, call for a prompt evaluation.
Good Foot Care
To prevent yellowed toenails, practice good foot hygiene. Wash your feet daily and dry your toenails and between your toes carefully. Apply anti-fungal food powder if desired before putting on socks and shoes. Change your socks often, and allow your shoes to rest and dry out for a day between wearings to prevent fungal infections. If you have yellow toenails from nail polish staining, it should resolve itself as your toenails grow out.
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