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How to Whiten Yellow Nails

yellow nails

Why do nails turn yellow?

Most likely, the nails are stained from nail polish.

Nails can get stained from wearing nail polish even when you use a base coat before the color causing them to look yellow or orange. The pigments in the polish absorb into the top layers of the nails.

Reasons Why Nail Turn Yellow

Besides polish staining, there are some other reasons nails turn yellow.

Nicotine can stain the cause giving them a yellowy brown appearance. The best cure is to stop smoking. Nothing good comes from smoking!

Fungal Infections
A fungal infection can cause yellowing of the nails. The nails also become brittle and crumbly. The nails thicken and there is a buildup of debris under the nails.

See your dermatologist for a diagnosis. The doctor can do a scraping of the nail and test it to confirm if it is fungus or not. A prescription or over the counter treatment will then be recommended. The nails will lose their yellow appearance as the nail grows out and the infection heals.

Psoriasis can cause yellowing of the nails. It can also cause pitting on the surface of the nails. The nails become flaky and weak. 

A doctor can prescribe medications, including corticosteroids, to help improve nail psoriasis. 

Phototherapy can also be used to improve nail psoriasis. The treatment involves exposure to UV light to improve nail the yellowing and nail separation.

A pulsed dye laser can also be helpful for nail psoriasis. 

Keep your nails short and get a manicure to improve the appearance of the nails. Be sure to let your nail tech know you have psoriasis to receive the best treatment.

Serious Medical Conditions
Yellow nails can indicate more serious issues. Thyroid conditions, diabetes, respiratory problems, lymphatic problems and skin cancer can cause yellowing of the nails. Yellow Nail Syndrome (YNS) is a rare disorder which affects the nails, the lungs and airways, and creates lymphedema.

Medications such as tetracycline and chemotherapy drugs can cause the nails to yellow. The yellowing will grow out after the medications are stopped.

How to Whiten Stained Yellow Nails

Buff Them
Lightly filing the nails will buff off the yellow stain, but the nails get thinner and weaker the more you file. This is a remedy to use only once in a while to prevent weakening the nails. 

To whiten nails up a bit, remove your polish, then use a tooth whitening toothpaste and a toothbrush to give them a good scrubbing.  Allow it to sit on your nails for 5 minutes then wash off.

Lemon Juice
You can also try soaking your bare nails in lemon juice for 10 minutes then rinse.

Denture Cleaner
Soak the nails in denture cleaner. You know, denture cleaner tablets such as Polident. Dissolve the tablet in water, soak your nails for 10 minutes and wash off.

Baking Soda & Peroxide
Some people like baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Apply it to your bare nails, let it sit 5 minutes then, wash off.

I have also heard from my hair stylist friends, that you can soak your nails in blue shampoo that is used to get rid of the brassy yellow in blonde or gray hair. 

The blue tint helps to cancel out the yellow of the nails.

Combine 1 tablespoon of blue shampoo with 1 cup of water in a small dish. Soak bare nails for 10 or 15 minutes. Scrub the nails with a toothbrush and rinse off. Some blue shampoos are Aveda Blue Malva Shampoo and Ion Cool Blonde Shampoo.

Prevent Yellow Stained Nails

Base Coat
Be sure to always use a base coat to help prevent polish stained nails. I find a ridge filling base coat provides a thicker layer of protection. 

seche base
Seche Base Ridge Filling Base Coat
Seche Base is one of my favorites base coats. It gives the nails a nice pearlized finish while minimizing the look of nail ridges and imperfections. $7.99

Avoid Certain Polish Colors
Dark nail colors in red and orange family are notorious for staining the nails. Bright pinks can do it too.

I hope my tips help you whiten yellow nails and keep them looking beautiful!

Stay Healthy and Beautiful!
Licensed Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Makeup Artist

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