Yellow and black nails

Yellow and black nails can be provoked for many different reasons, one must recognize the cause in order to find the right therapy and the best natural remedies.


Yellow nails

Nails can acquire a yellowish color for several reasons:

  • nail polishes: varnishes that have expired or varnishes with intense color can discolor the nail, especially if applied without a transparent primer,
  • tobacco smoke: fingers and nails of smokers take on a yellow colour due to the nicotine contained in cigarettes,
  • Respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitispleural effusion, etc.

The nail consists of different layers, which are mainly formed of:

  • keratin, a substance that also makes up hair;
  • mineral salts, especially calcium and zinc;
  • fats or proteins,
  • Water.

The nail has a rectangular shape and is slightly curved (concave).
The usual color of healthy nails is translucent. The pink colour is caused by the skin on which the nail rests: the nail bed.

Anatomy of the nail

The plate consists of three layers:

  • Ventral: This is the innermost and soft layer, the cells are scattered and partly still alive;
  • Intermediate: the middle layer is more rigid because the cells begin to die and become stiffer;
  • Dorsal: This is the outermost and hardest layer, the cells are dead and hard.

The nail plate does not contain blood vessels and nerves, but is nourished by blood vessels located under the nail structure (the nail bed).

Matrix, Lunula and Eponychian
The matrix represents the nail root:

  • It creates the cells that form the nail plate,
  • It regulates nail growth.

At the base of the nail you can see a crescent moon (lunula), which is brighter or whiter.

On the lunula you can recognize the edge of the skin or a cuticle called eponychium.

Nail bed
The nail bed is the part on which the plate.
It is a layer of skin rich in blood vessels, which gives the nail its pink color.

Nail rim and hyponychium
The nail edge is the free white edge that originates from the finger end member.
Under the plate, at the tip of the finger, under the nail you can see a strip of skin called hyponychium. This skin protects the nail by preventing germs from entering the nail bed.

Nail edge
These are the lateral edges of the nail.
If the nails become ill, changes can be observed in relation to:

  • Color: the nail plate can become whitish or yellow and also the nail bed can change color.
  • Shape and appearance: depressions or streaks may form on the nail surface.
  • Structure: they can become brittle and easily break or stop growing.

Yellow nails caused by a fungus

Fungi penetrate mainly through injuries or microtraumas of the nail.
Other factors that increase the risk of fungal infection or nail mycosis include:

  • Diseases: immunodepression, diabetes, circulatory disorders.
  • Warm and humid environment (for example, non-breathable shoes, swimming pools): the probability of a fungal infection is very high.

Fungi can affect the following areas:

  1. The nail plate: the surface of the nail appears whitish and rougher;
  2. The root of the nail: the whole nail or part of it is thickened and whitish-yellow in color.

The most common symptoms of fungal infection of the hands and toenails are:

  • The fungus causes white nails and eventually leads to a change in pigmentation, first to yellow and then to brown.
  • This infection begins with a small spot that slowly enlarges until it covers the entire nail.
  • The nail fungus makes the nail surface very rough, thickens and destroys it and eventually causes nail decay.
  • This disease is very painful and can spread a foul odor in severe cases.

It is not difficult to prevent nail fungus.

  • Change your socks daily,
  • If possible, do not walk barefoot in public places,
  • Treat cuts on toes and fingers to avoid infection.

If a fungal infection is not treated in time, it can grow and spread to the other nails.

In people with diabetes, infected nails should be treated immediately, as they are at increased risk of spreading due to high blood sugar levels.
Even for people who take a lot of medications, there is a high risk of spreading the infection on their feet because their immune system is weakened.
If left untreated, a chronic bacterial infection or skin disease can develop.
Regular nail care at home reduces the risk of contracting a fungus or other diseases.

Black nails from trauma

This is not a big problem, but it can lead to the loss of the nail.
Typically, trauma occurs to a single nail, usually the big toenail.
The toenail suffers a trauma or bruise when:

  • Something heavy falls on it,
  • He is exposed to excessive pressure, for example if the shoes are too tight,
  • When you hit a surface hard, for example on the edges of furniture.

The trauma causes pain in the toe and it can cause rupture of small blood vessels located in the nail bed.
When the capillaries of the toe rupture, a hematoma is formed.
In such a case, the nail appears dark blue or purple until the blood has been absorbed.

If the nail is white at the tip, the cause may be a bump or blow to a hard surface.
These white spots on the toes disappear after a few days as the nail grows.

Pale and opaque nails

If the nail beds appear a little pale, anemia may be present. This blood disease is characterized by a low number of red blood cells.
Anemia due to iron deficiency leads to an insufficient amount of oxygen in the blood.
As a result, skin and tissue appear brighter, especially those under the nails.

Anemia is one of the most common causes of white nails in pregnancy.
One should eat iron-rich foods, such as:

  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • Legumes: lentils, chickpeas and beans.

Vertical lines on the nails

Pigmented longitudinal stripes are generally found on the nails of people with dark skin.
These spots can cause a problem in diagnosis because they must be distinguished from subungual melanoma.
Subungual melanoma occurs in 50 percent of melanomas in dark-skinned people, but is rare in fair-skinned people.
In people at risk, melanoma should be considered until a contrary test has been done by a biopsy.

Yellow nail syndrome

“Yellow nail syndrome” is a rare condition in which three typical signs manifest themselves:

  1. The nails grow more slowly and become thicker and the nail takes on a yellowish tone.
  2. lymphedema, accumulation of a body fluid called lymph in some parts of the body, especially in the lower limbs,
  3. Breathing problems, including:
    1. chronic bronchodilation,
    2. sinusitis,
    3. Pleural effusion.

The cause of this syndrome is not yet known, but there are three hypotheses:

  • Malignant tumors,
  • immune deficiency disorder (AIDS),
  • rheumatoid arthritis; if it is rheumatoid arthritis, yellow nail syndrome is seen in patients treated with thiol (for example, bucillamine and sodium aurothiomalate); these drugs are thought to play a role in nail disease,
  • A disorder of lymphatic circulation.

Other researchers (D’Alessandro A, Muzi G, Monaco A, Filiberto S, Barboni A, Abbritti G. Yellow nail syndrome: does protein leakage play a role? Eur Respir J. 2001;17:149–52) It is believed that the cause of yellow nail syndrome can be associated with protein loss due to increased permeability of microcirculation, in fact, this disease is often found in:

  • hypoalbuminaemia,
  • pleural effusion,
  • Lymphedema.

This syndrome may recur spontaneously, but the respiratory symptoms must be treated by a doctor to avoid serious complications.

What should you do about yellow and black nails?

If toenails have become black due to trauma, no therapy is required, because the stain passes with nail growth.

Treatment for nail fungus
In case of fungal infection, the doctor prescribes oral or local medications.
The duration of treatment is about 10-12 weeks.
Often drug therapy is not sufficient and the infection either does not pass or returns.
In these cases, it is important to change the diet. The most effective diets are the natural ones, such as:

  • Paleo diet,
  • Blood group diet.
  • Vegan diet with mostly raw foods.

Nail cutting
Another important point is to cut the nails correctly.
If you can not do this yourself, you should take a foot care.

Dry and clean feet
You should keep your toes dry. In case of heavy sweating, it is advisable to use powder or talcum for the feet.

This powder keeps you dry:

  • The nails,
  • The space between the toes.

You should change your socks daily and dry them very well after showering:

  • The feet (also between the toes),
  • The legs.

Comfortable shoes
It is important to wear comfortable shoes to limit trauma to the toenails.

In the house it is best not to wear shoes at all, you can walk barefoot in the apartment or put on slippers to avoid injuries to the toes.

Laser Therapy
Today, nail fungus can be treated with laser therapy.

diseased nail 
If prevention and medication are not enough, the only solution might be surgical removal of the nail.

Natural remedies for yellow and black nails

Tea tree oil against nail fungus
There are several natural home remedies for the fungus to clear an infection before it can spread.
For the treatment of nail fungus, it is recommended to apply a few drops of tea tree oil to the nail directly or even after cutting the toenails.
In this way, healing is accelerated.

Hydrogen peroxide
A pedicure with hydrogen peroxide is an excellent home remedy. Hydrogen peroxide is a good disinfectant and can help reduce the risk of infection in injured skin.

Sodium bicarbonate
If the nails are yellowed and weakened by nail polish, you can lighten them by hand baths in a bowl with water and baking soda.

Another very effective home remedy to lighten the nails is lemon. To do this, you can simply rub a slice of lemon on the nail.

Olive oil Olive oil helps to strengthen the nails. To do this, you have to dip the nails in the oil for a few minutes.

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