Nail changes can be important indicators to our overall health.

Nail changes can be important indicators to our overall health and may also be desperate communication that your body needs your urgent attention.

The communication from your body could be anything from, spoon-shaped nails indicate iron deficiency, chronic liver disease turns the nails opaque-white, and vertical ridges on the nails are merely a harmless consequence of aging.

Now if you have yellow nails may indicate different reasons — from having a fungal infection to something less serious.

Before you start panicking or trying to book a manicure to hide your nails, we caught up with Podiatrist Christian Olivier from Treating your sole to find out why this happens and how to combat it:

One of the common reasons for yellow nails is caused by trauma. The trauma might be anything from bumping, stubbing or breaking the nail.

Olivier says this will make the nail appear yellowish as the nail has lifted off of the nail bed- as if the nail has lost its source of nourishment and therefore dries and changes colour.

He compares it to the to when a leaf of a tree falls off, it will dry and change colour. That what happens to the nail.

Another reason for the change in color is nail fungus says, Olivier. Various fungal organisms that affect the nail and nail bed can also turn nails into yellowish colour. Depending on the type of fungal organism  the appearance of the discoloration may differ.

A fungal nail infection may occur from the overgrowth of fungus in, under, or on the nail. Fungi mostly thrive in warm, moist environments, and this could cause these environments to naturally overpopulate just as the jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm can cause nail infections.

Olivier says overuse of nail varnish is another common cause of yellowish nail discolouration as well as nail varnish removers.

Coloring your nails in a dark colour regularly may also lead to the discoloration of the toenails.

There are different methods that can be used for combating the yellowish colour. Both professional help and home remedies can do the trick. 

Podiatrist Andy Blecher recommends these treatments to help with the discoloration and fungal nail infections: 

  • If you suspect a fungal and or any toenail infection see a podiatrist who can accurately make a diagnosis and help you through the treatment process.
  • Fungal infections can be treated with oral medication and topical medication.
  •  The latest most successful treatment is laser treatment by a podiatrist specifically trained to administer this treatment, says Blecher.
She also suggests observation of the environment where pedicures are done. "Make sure your beautician is sterilising , disinfecting files and clippers etc between clients as many of these infections are spread in these environments".

"There are over the counter products for fungal infections to be used with reservation and under the guidance of a podiatrist.

If you are a lover of nail polish you might need to give your nails a break from the polish through the winter months, it might help with discoloration," she said.

The right pair of shoes makes a difference. “Make sure your shoes are fitting correctly and there is enough toe box space as tight shoes can damage nails,” says Blecher.

Unfortunately if a nail is damaged due to trauma and the root of the nail is damaged this can be permanent and there is no treatment for this.

“Prevention is the cure which is the message that needs to be put out there,” adds Blecher.