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Why Do Toenails Discolor?

Discolored toenails are a common problem that affects people of all ages. It can be concerning to see changes in the appearance of your toenails, especially if you don't know the cause. However, discolored toenails are not always a cause for alarm. Learn the reasons behind discolored toenails and what you can do to prevent and treat them.

1. Fungal Infections:

The most common reason behind discolored toenails is a fungal infection. When fungi invade your toenails, they can cause them to turn yellow, brown, or green. You may also notice other symptoms, such as thickened or brittle nails, foul smell, and even pain. Fungal infections can be contracted in moist environments, such as public pools, locker rooms, and showers. Good hygiene practices, such as keeping your feet clean and dry, can help prevent fungal infections. Over-the-counter antifungal medications are effective in treating most fungal nail infections.


2. Trauma:

Physical trauma to your toenails can also cause discoloration. For example, if you accidentally drop something heavy on your toe, it can lead to a black or blue discoloration under your nail. This happens because the blood gets trapped under the nail bed and doesn't dry out. The discoloration will gradually disappear as your nail grows out. However, if your toenail is detached from the nail bed, you may need medical attention to prevent further complications.


3. Health Conditions:

Certain health conditions can also cause discolored toenails. For example, people with diabetes may experience yellowing and thickening of their toenails due to poor circulation. Autoimmune disorders, such as psoriasis, can also cause discoloration and abnormal nail growth. If you notice sudden changes in the appearance of your nails and suspect it might be related to a health condition, it's best to consult your doctor.


4. Medications:

Some medications can also cause changes to the color of your toenails. For example, chemotherapy drugs can cause your nails to turn yellow or brown. Antibiotics and antimalarial drugs may also cause discoloration. If you're undergoing a treatment that causes discoloration of your nails, it's essential to talk to your doctor about it and also consult your podiatrist.


5. Ageing:

As we age, our nails tend to lose their natural luster and become discolored. They may also become weaker and susceptible to breaking or peeling. However, this type of discoloration is harmless and only a cosmetic issue. You can prevent your nails from discoloring by taking good care of them. Keep them clean and moisturized and avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals.


Discolored toenails can be a result of a range of factors, from fungal infections to physical trauma to health conditions and aging. However, most of these situations can be addressed with proper care, timely treatment, and consultation with specialists if required. If you're struggling with discolored toenails, be sure to consult a podiatrist and opt for the right treatment plan. And always remember, good foot hygiene goes a long way in preventing these types of issues.

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