Yellow spots on the nails

Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 10.10.2018

Changing the color of the nail plate is usually immediately evident, because we nurse our nails regularly, at least - we cut it every week. If the defect appeared on the fingers, then its appearance is noticeable and surrounding. Yellow spots on the nails, of course, can be hidden with a bright lacquer, but you can not ignore it. Such defects can be caused by temporary and harmless reasons, however, by yellowing the nails the body can give us signals about a hidden serious illness. Nails, skin, hair are indicators that reflect abnormalities in the work of internal organs.

A yellow spot can appear on one nail or several (local spots), and sometimes all at once the nails become yellow. This condition is called a yellow nail cider and can indicate serious, life-threatening diseases, of course, if this did not happen after the new bright red lacquer was washed off the nails.

Causes of the yellow spots on the nails

The most common external cause of yellowing of the nail plate in women is the permanent staining of their decorative lacquer. Especially often this reaction is caused by bright and saturated colors. Of course, the quality of the varnish is important, however, even from the expensive varnish applied to the protective backing, the nails can turn yellow. Other cosmetic tricks designed to decorate our nails - build-up, pasting, shellac (gel-lacquer) and others can lead to the fact that after removing the coating, it is found that the nails have a non-aesthetic appearance. In this case, the cause of the trouble is obvious, the nail plates on all fingers acquire an even yellowish hue, and sometimes, in addition to discolouration, their structure (laminations, cracks) is broken, and the upper layer of the nail plate is removed.

Specialists in the field of cosmetology argue that if after the varnish on the nails appeared yellow spots, the fault is a low-quality lacquer. The varnish may contain formaldehyde resins, dibutyl phthalate, toluene and other toxic substances. Basically, it is believed that they are contained in cheap varnishes, although sensitive nails can turn yellow after expensive, especially bright. Yellow spots on the nails after the gel-varnish are even more likely, since this kind of coating is even more likely to contain toxic substances and, unlike usual, keeps on the nails for a much longer time. In addition to toxic effects, gel-lacquer completely blocks the access of oxygen to the nail. In the process of applying the nails are dried with an ultraviolet lamp, which has a shelf life (quality lamps are considered safe). It is drying under the lamp that causes criticism from the critics of medicine. But the most traumatic moment is the removal of the coating, when the nails must first be wrapped with a cotton pad moistened with a liquid to remove the coating at least for a quarter of an hour, and ensure that there is no air access to them, and then scrape off the rest of the gel-varnish. The procedure is traumatic, you can lose the upper layer of the nail plate. Doctors do not recommend constantly doing a manicure with applying gel-lacquer or shellac, as now often called any gel-lacquer (named after the first such product - Shellac).

Disregard of safety in everyday life and at work with working with aggressive chemicals - paint (including hair), cleaning agents, bleach can cause the appearance of yellow spots on the nails.

A yellowish tint is acquired by the skin of inveterate co-eaters, including under the nails (they acquire a yellowish tint) - pigmentation occurs. In smokers - the color of the nails and fingers on the yellowish change the tar of tobacco.

Active use of plant foods, rich in carotene and carotenoids - carrots, sea buckthorn, fresh juices from them leads to yellowing of the epidermis. This is perhaps the most innocuous reason for such a defect. Carotidoderma can occur as a consequence of a violation of the absorption of vitamin A due to improper operation of the digestive organs, when its excess in an unchanged form pigments the surface layers of the epidermis.

The appearance of this defect may result in a course of taking antibiotics belonging to teracyclines and quinolones, derivatives of nitrofuran, acrychin, Ascorbic drops, carotene, resorcinol treatment.

As a result of preferring narrow footwear models (especially on high heels), the nail plates on the toes are mechanically compressed, yellowed and deformed. Nails of the thumb and little finger often suffer.

Nails can turn yellow even under the influence of ultraviolet rays. Nevertheless, if the yellow spots on the nails do not appear directly after the reasons listed above, which can be considered relatively safe, then it is not worthwhile counting strongly on the effect of ultraviolet radiation. It is necessary to address the problem to the doctor and be examined, because a yellowish tinge of the nails can indicate the presence of serious diseases.

Pathological causes of the appearance of yellow spots - a disease directly to the nail plate or damage to the internal organs, manifested by defects in the nails due to metabolic disorders and trophic tissue.

Fungal infection ( onychomycosis ) is found among the pathological causes of yellowness of the nails most often. Yellow spots appear in the epidermophyte, candidiasis, mold fungus infection, mixed infection. Infected with a fungus can be through non-sterile instruments during manicure and pedicure, when injuring the nail plate.

Often the nail is affected by the spread of the infection from the skin when combing, it is considered probable that the infection with the blood flow into the area of the nail matrix. Factors contributing to the development of onychomycosis are hormonal and immune disorders, chronic dermatoses, trauma.

The cause of the appearance of yellow spots on the nails can be psoriasis. So begins onycholysis - detachment of nails from their bed. Psoriatic onychodystrophy is sometimes noted only on the nails even before the appearance of typical eruptions and often accompanies psoriatic arthropathy - one of the most severe forms of psoriasis.

The development of onychography - dystrophic changes of the nail plate, making it look like a claw of a bird, begins with the yellowing of the nails. The reasons for its development are many: from a hereditary predisposition (extremely rarely) to age specificities and psoriasis. Most often observed in elderly people.

Systemic diseases, acute and chronic, serious - syphilis, tuberculosis, lighter - measles or rubella, diabetes mellitus, thyroid dysfunction, neoplasms, cardiac, vascular, joint, respiratory pathologies cause metabolic disturbances, anemia and are reflected in the nail condition - they can turn yellow.

Immunodeficiency, acquired as a result of prolonged drug therapy, acute infections transferred, infection with viral hepatitis and HIV infection can also provoke such a symptom.

The cause of the syndrome of the yellow nail can be stagnation of lymph. If all the nails on one or both limbs become yellow, then you can suspect lymphedema - stagnation of the lymphatic fluid. Primary lymphedema, associated with congenital maldevelopment of the lymphatic system, manifests itself as a rule up to 35 years; secondary or acquired - more often affects people older than 50 years without gender difference. The cause of acquired lymphedema is obesity, malignant tumors, limb surgeries and removal of the breast.

Other causes of yellowness of the nail plates may be: stagnation of bile as a result of neoplasms of the liver, gall bladder or bile duct, circulatory disorders in peripheral vessels, heredity and collagenoses.

In old age, the nails thicken and turn yellow, however, we should not forget that, together with a solid age, we also get a bouquet of chronic pathologies.

Risk factors

The risk factors for the appearance of yellowness on the nails of the upper and lower extremities are numerous, as is the pathogenesis of the development of such changes.

With neoplasms of the organs of the hepatobiliary system, the syndrome of the yellow nail is caused by the fact that a mechanical obstruction to the free outflow of bile is created, stagnation occurs, and the excess amount of bile pigments is concentrated in the skin of the nail bed.

With common chronic diseases of the lower respiratory tract, cardiovascular pathologies, intoxications, immunodeficiencies, age changes under the nails accumulates hemosiderin - a product of destruction of erythrocytes, which went beyond the vascular bed. It is assumed that its localization in the subungual bed is a consequence of circulatory disorders in peripheral vessels.

With lymphedema, the lymph that breaks the lymph drainage at the fingertips, which impregnates the skin under the fingernails and changes their color, leaves the channel of their channel.

Dystrophic processes in the skin contribute to the accumulation of melanin under the nails. Skin cells receive it from melanocytes, which protect the epidermis from harmful exogenous effects, including UV rays. Under the influence of sunlight there is an intensive formation of melanin, it migrates into the skin cells, its excess quantity is localized in the distal phalanges of the fingers.

With fungal lesions, the color of the nail is determined by the appearance of the fungus, yellowness is characteristic of epidermophytosis, rubromycosis, candidiasis.

The appearance of a yellow shade at the nails indicates possible health problems and requires a thorough examination.

Symptoms of the yellow spots on the nails

Nails in a healthy person have a single color pink. The yellowish shade of all of them, or yellow spots on one or more plates - this is how the first signs of diseases of the nails, and sometimes - of the internal organs can manifest themselves.

The pathological process begins with a change in the thickness of the nail. It becomes coarser and thicker, or, on the contrary, thin and brittle, then its color changes. Nails become dull, get a rough surface, begin to flake off and stain.

If you notice that all the nail plates look yellowish, then such symptoms can be observed with systemic pathologies or, conversely, be the result of more innocuous reasons - negligence towards the nails, reaction to a new varnish or a new cosmetic procedure. However, even in the latter case, changes occur in the nail plate and skin under the nails, accompanied by symptoms of dystrophy and allergization.

Yellow spots on the nails after building, shellac, ordinary varnish, indicate that they suffered from the toxicity of the applied coating and hypoxia. They need care and time for regeneration. The same approach is needed if the nails have suffered from contact with household chemicals, have turned yellow after drug therapy or due to intense smoking. In the latter case - time and care will not help, you need to quit smoking.

If you do not paint your nails and do not abuse carrot juice and coffee, and yellowness is still present, you need to see a doctor, because such a defect may be a symptom of a serious illness. It is possible that the yellow spots on the nails are the first signs of a latent pathological process.

Yellowing of the nail plates on all the limbs can be a sign of obstructive jaundice or viral hepatitis. In this case, concomitant symptoms may be nausea, bitterness in the mouth, discomfort or abdominal pain.

Stagnation of the lymphatic fluid causes the nails to turn yellow on the affected limb. This is one of the first symptoms. Lymphedema is usually combined with a rapidly increasing edema. Such a violation can be observed on one limb, legs often suffer.

Common diseases that do not give a first symptomatic symptoms can attract attention by the fact that the surface of the skin under the fingernails has turned yellow (hemosiderosis). This may be the first sign of developing neoplasm, cardiovascular or respiratory pathologies. Concomitant symptoms in this case are fast fatigue, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, unobtrusive cough.

The appearance of the persistent yellowness of the nails, which can not be linked to recent manipulations with nails, work with household chemicals and other "harmless" reasons, must be sure to alert and induce to go to a medical institution.

Yellow patches on the nails of the legs with systemic pathologies appear in the first place, since the violation of peripheral circulation begins with a farther periphery.

It is likely the development of lymphostasis of the foot, especially if the yellowness is noted on the nails of one limb.

The cause of a yellowish nail shade can be diabetes , from which, in the first place, suffer from lower limbs.

Hemosiderosis of the skin under the toenails can develop with other common diseases, in addition, the toenails can suffer from applying toxic varnish when performing a pedicure.

The yellow spot on the thumb of the toe can speak of compression deformation due to pressure by the shoes. In this case, in addition to mechanical damage to the nail plate, the likelihood of developing mycosis increases in this place.

Fungal diseases also often begin to develop on the nails of this particular finger. It is the most loaded with walking, through it pass the vessels that provide blood circulation of the foot, so physicians have long noticed that both general and age-related degenerative processes affecting the epidermis and nail plates begin with the lower extremities and, first of all, are visible on the thumb .

For the same reasons, yellow spots appear on the nails of the hands. External symptoms of changes in the nails from the action of any factors are similar. To establish the exact cause of the appearance of spots, you need to visit a doctor and conduct the necessary diagnostic tests.

With any dystrophic changes, the nail becomes thinner, begins to separate, crumbles.

Fungal lesions lead to thickening of the nails. Not only the color changes, the nail becomes cloudy, its structure is loose, the cells of the subungual plate intensively divide - hyperkeratosis is observed, the platen near the nail can be affected. For fungal fungal infections of nails, an unpleasant odor is characteristic of them.

Psoriasis and other dermatoses are also accompanied by thickening of the skin under the nails and around them, thickening of the nails themselves, the appearance of holes, depressed grooves, dashes, delamination and brittleness. In psoriasis, spots under the nails and plates are not only yellow, but gray and white.

As a result of intoxications, in particular, the medicinal nails also turn yellow, thicken, under them the cells of the bed tissue grow, their shape changes, fragility increases. The color of the nails depends on the type of toxic substance and can be from light yellow to rich orange.

When carotenoderma are colored in yellowness, it appears not only on the nails, but also on the palms and feet, the pigments of coffee and nicotine gums color not only the nails, the skin also acquires an unhealthy icteric tinge.

The color of the nail can be suspected a number of pathologies. White-yellow spots on the nails can be seen with psoriasis . Exactly the same spots can be the result of coating the nails with gel-varnish. Apparently, onychodystrophy develops in both cases.

A yellow-brown (brown) spot on the nail may be a sign of candidiasis, which first affects the peri-osacoccus roller. It swells, reddens and hurts, flakes, it can crack, the cuticle disappears. Then the infection spreads to the nail plate - it loses its transparency, becomes thicker and darker. Later begins to flake and crumble. With candidiasis, the nail plates can also become covered with transverse brown wavy grooves.

Yellow-brown nails are observed in the development of onychriphysis. They become hard, thick and dull, very long, curved to the side and resemble the claws of a bird of prey.

Multicolored specks are observed when the mold is affected by a fungus, which, by the way, is usually introduced under the nail, already affected by dermatophytes or yeast fungi. In the beginning, spots are seen through a transparent nail, their color can be different as in mold - white, yellow, greenish, gray and black. All colors are not necessarily present, for example, there may be a yellow-green spot on the nail or black-green. Molded fungus is very often affected by the big toe, less often the little finger. Additional symptoms are slow rates of the disease development, intensive growth of horn cells (hyperkeratosis), as a result of which the free edges of the nail are raised and discolored.

Epidermophytia is manifested by the appearance of yellow and yellow-green stripes and spots on the side of the free edge of the nail, gradually they grab the entire nail, which changes shape and begins to crumble.

Currently, often diagnosed polymycosis - infection with several species of fungi.

A yellow-pink spot on the nail may appear from the impact of aggressive chemicals, as a result of drug intoxication and infectious endocarditis. Traumatic hemorrhage may also look like a yellow-red or yellow-pink stain under the fingernail. Perhaps over time the blood will curdle and the spot will darken.

As can be seen, it is impossible to visually diagnose, guided only by external signs of spots on the nails. The yellowness of the nails indicates degenerative-dystrophic changes in the nail plate. To successfully get rid of a defect, you need to diagnose and determine the cause of such changes.

Complications and consequences

Yellow spots on the nails do not correspond to the appearance of a successful and prosperous person. This defect is undesirable, above all, from an aesthetic point of view. In addition, yellowed nails can be the first sign of a disease, sometimes very dangerous and life-threatening.

Diseases of the nails, such as fungus, in general, life is not threatened, but in the absence of treatment, you can completely lose your nail.

Psoriasis of the nails - a serious and incurable disease, sometimes there is isolated psoriatic onychodystrophy, in other cases, the defeat of the nails is combined with the lesions of skin and even joints. Nevertheless, if you start treatment with the appearance of the first signs of the disease, you can achieve a long and stable remission. In advanced cases, irreversible onycholysis occurs.

Diseases of internal organs also lead to the cessation of nail growth, their deformation, the development of onychography.

Any change in the appearance of the nails causes psychological discomfort, people try to hide their hands, hesitate to give a hand for a handshake. In general, the syndrome of the yellow nail affects patients who have crossed a half-century boundary and are burdened with chronic pathologies.

Diagnostics of the yellow spots on the nails

Specific diagnosis of the syndrome of yellow nails does not exist. Nevertheless, a number of surveys will have to pass. Their goal - to identify or rule out the cause of the formation of yellow spots on the nails.

General blood and urine tests, blood chemistry tests, glucose and thyroid hormone levels, rapid diagnosis of syphilis (Wasserman reaction), chest radiography will be mandatory.

A sample of material will be taken from the nail plate for microscopic examination for the presence of fungal infection and determining its appearance.

Can be appointed oncologist's consultation, other studies and specific tests depending on the alleged pathology.

Differential diagnosis is performed with mycosis of the nails, degenerative-dystrophic processes of various etiology, psoriasis.

Treatment of the yellow spots on the nails

Nail diseases and general pathologies should be treated by specialists of the appropriate profile, without specific treatment it will not be possible to get rid of yellowness on the nails, however, nail treatment procedures and systemic diseases, after drug therapy, hypovitaminosis will not be superfluous and will help to strengthen and nourish the nail plate from the outside .

For nails that are affected by low-quality lacquer, hypoxia, household chemicals can be intensively poured at home and return to their normal appearance with the help of alternative methods of bleaching, using improvised means - vinegar, soda, soap, salt, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide and ordinary dental paste. Surely, such substances are found in every home.

In the evening before going to bed it is recommended to clean not only the teeth, but also the nails (specially brushed for them with a brush). Pasta is best used with the content of the whitening component, which is often enough sodium bicarbonate or ordinary baking soda. It itself is a bleaching agent. In soda, you can lower the wet brush for the nails, and then rub her nails. Fanaticism should not be shown, this substance still possesses some abrasive activity. Therefore, if the nail surface has lost its integrity after removal of shellac, it is better to wait with such procedure. In this case, it is better to dissolve the soda in warm water and make a bath, holding the fingertips in a soda solution for a quarter of an hour.

Usual baby soap, softened in warm water, scrape with the nails soothed in the same water, so that the soap pulp sticks to the nail and hovers under it. Remove hands, wait two to three minutes and clean each nail with a brush.

You can wipe your nails with table vinegar, better - apple. Acetic acid cleaves color pigments.

Bleach and strengthen the nails of the bath with sea salt, for which salt weighing about 30 g (two full teaspoons) is dissolved in warm water (200ml). Lower the fingertips into the bath and hold them there for a quarter of an hour. After that, the salt is washed off with warm water and a nourishing cream is applied to the skin of hands and nails. Instead of cream, you can smear your hands with vegetable oil.

Whitening paste from hydrogen peroxide with soda in the ratio of volumes of substances 1: 2 is applied to the nail plates for a short time (up to five minutes). Wash off with water, lightly rubbing the nails with a mixture.

One teaspoon of pharmacy glycerin is mixed with five of the same volumes of hydrogen peroxide. Spread on the nails, rinse after five minutes.

The leader of natural lemon bleaches. And it is enough to wipe your nails with a slice of lemon or even just a piece of its crust at any convenient moment, you can immerse them in a cut half of the fruit. Lemon juice mixed with olive oil or any vegetable oil can be applied with a brush to the nails and left overnight. Alternatively, a mixture of juice with essential oils - tea tree, bergamot, citrus or ylang ylang, is used.

You can do seven-ten-minute baths for nails with tablets designed for whitening dental prostheses. Such pills are sold in pharmacies. For a tray two pieces dissolve in a glass of warm water.

To get rid of yellow spots on nails caused by everyday reasons, you can use professional tools - pencils, powders, scrubs. Such means of different brands can be purchased in specialized stores.

Onychomycosis, psoriasis and other diseases are treated under the supervision of a doctor with the help of preparations for this intended.


It is necessary to abandon bad habits, lead a healthy lifestyle and eat fully.

When carrying out domestic work and professional duties related to chemicals, it is necessary to wear protective gloves.

Do not save on nail care products, read the composition of the varnish and try not to use products with toxic substances.

Use the base for lacquer, give nails a rest and breathe without cover, carefully caring for them during this period.

If nails are damaged after gel-lacquer application procedures, nail extensions should be given to them to fully recover and then, if desired, decorate the nails again.

To prevent infection with fungus in public places, it is necessary to wear flip-flops, not to wear and not to try on someone else's shoes on a bare foot, to visit a proven manicurist and pedicure master.

Injuries and wounds of okolonogtevogo space should be treated as soon as possible antiseptic.


Yellow spots on the nails that appear due to negligence and household causes are amenable to care. It's not difficult to get rid of them. In most cases, even if nothing is done, just do not paint your nails, they will grow back and everything will pass.

The fungus is treatable, with a responsible attitude to yourself with dermatoses, you can also, if not cope at all, then significantly improve the condition and achieve remission.

The prognosis of common diseases depends on their severity.

It is important to know!

Probably, with each at least once in a lifetime there was such a nuisance as a bruised nail. Wild, throbbing pain, a blue nail plate that slides with time and does not grow long again - the spectacle is not pleasant.

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