Has your penchant for dark nail polish and gel manicures left your nails stained and lifeless?
Whether you decide to go metallic, full goth or sparkle all the way, constantly using dark nail polish can take a toll on your nails, turning them yellow and unsightly.
Donning piña colada nail color looks super chic during the summer, but that’s entirely different than natural nails that have turned yellow.
Nails are an area on our body that bacteria or fungi like to reside in and call home, leading to infection and discoloration.
Take note of yellow, super-curved, and thickened nails, as this can be a signal of a host of other health issues, such as diabetes, psoriasis, thyroid disease and lung disease; for which you need to consult your doctor. (1)
If your nail texture hasn’t truly changed don’t panic, your polish and/or minor bacterial or fungal infection is likely to blame.
Blame it on the nail polish or infection; either way, yellow nails are not a permanent condition and can be overcome using simple home remedies. If you wish to turn your nails from DRAB to FAB, read on to learn how to get rid of yellow nails easily.
If the culprit of yellow nails is polish, try one of the first four methods. If it is due to an infection, go for one of the last three methods.
- Yellow Nails Due to Nail Polish
- Method 1: Use Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
- Method 2: Use Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
- Method 3: Use White Toothpaste
- Method 4: Use Denture Tablets
- Yellow Nails Due to an Infection
- Method 1: Use Vicks
- Method 2: Use Tea Tree Oil
- Method 3: Use Apple Cider Vinegar
- Tips to get rid of yellow nails
Yellow Nails Due to Nail Polish
Method 1: Use Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Is there anything that baking soda can’t do? It is one of the most popular and common household ingredients. When combined with 3% hydrogen peroxide, baking soda can slough off the topmost yellow layer of your stained nails.
Hydrogen peroxide also acts as a bleaching agent as well as disinfects the nails, leaving them healthy and gleaming.
Things you’ll need:
- Baking soda (mild abrasive) – 4 tablespoons
- 3% hydrogen peroxide (bleaching agent) – 3 tablespoons
- Warm water – ½ cup
Step 1. Add hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to warm water
- Pour ½ cup of warm water into a glass bowl.
- Add 3 tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 4 tablespoons of baking soda to the water.
Step 2. Stir the mix and soak your nails in it for 5 minutes
- Stir well to mix all the ingredients.
- Soak your nails in the mixture for 5 minutes, then rinse them off with water.
- Finish by applying a moisturizer on your hands and nails.
Soaking your nails in a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide solution will produce immediate results.
Method 2: Use Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
Lemon juice is loaded with vitamins and minerals that replenish your skin and nails. It is also a natural bleaching agent that helps lighten the yellow staining.
For a complete TLC session, prepare a concoction of baking soda, lemon juice and olive oil to exfoliate, lighten and moisturize your nails.
Things you’ll need:
- Fresh lemon juice (bleaching agent) – 1 teaspoon
- Baking soda (mild abrasive agent) – 1 tablespoon
- Olive oil (moisturizer) – ½ teaspoon
Step 1. Combine lemon juice, baking soda and olive oil
- Pour 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice into a small container.
- Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of olive oil to the lemon juice.
Step 2. Mix the ingredients well and apply the paste on your nails
- Mix well to form a thick paste. You can increase or decrease the quantity of the ingredients to get the ideal consistency.
- Apply the mixture on your nails and give it a light rub.
- Let it sit for 5 minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.
- Follow it with your regular moisturizer.
This remedy should give you visible results after the very first use. You can use it 2 or 3 times a month to keep your nails white.
Method 3: Use White Toothpaste
Apart from cleaning your pearly whites, toothpaste can also be used to get rid of yellow nails. It contains mild abrasives that scrub your nails the same way they do your teeth.
Remember to use white toothpaste only to whiten your nails. Any other gel-based toothpaste won’t work.
Keeping your nails white is just one of the numerous applications of toothpaste.
Things you’ll need:
- White toothpaste (acts as an abrasive)
Step 1. Scrub your nails with toothpaste
- Squeeze out some toothpaste onto a soft and clean toothbrush.
- Apply the paste on your nails and scrub it around in small, circular motions for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Leave the toothpaste on your nails for 10 minutes.
Step 2. Rinse your nails with lukewarm water
- After 10 minutes, rinse off the toothpaste with lukewarm water.
- Apply a moisturizer on your nails and hands afterwards.
Use this remedy 2 or 3 times a week to get rid of yellow nails. They should be noticeably lighter after 1 week, but you can continue for 1 month if needed.
Method 4: Use Denture Tablets
Denture tablets used to remove staining from false teeth can also be used to whiten your nails. These tablets contain sodium bicarbonate and citric acid that cut through stains on hard surfaces like teeth and nails. (2)
Just add a few tablets to warm water and dunk your nails in it to get rid of yellow nails.
Step 1. Dissolve denture tablets in warm water
- Put 2 denture tablets in 1 cup of warm water.
- Stir well until the tablets dissolve completely.
Step 2. Soak your nails in the solution
- Soak your nails in the solution for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the active ingredients of the tablets to work on your nails.
- Rinse your nails with cold water and pat them dry.
- Finish by applying a moisturizer on your nails and hands.
Repeat this remedy 2 or 3 times every week for 2 months to restore your white nails.
Yellow Nails Due to an Infection
Method 1: Use Vicks
If your nails have turned yellow due to a fungal infection, smearing some Vicks VapoRub on them can heal the infection and reduce the discoloration.
Vicks contains ingredients like menthol, camphor and eucalyptus oil that have antifungal properties to get rid of a nail fungus and treat yellow nails. (3)
Vicks can also be used as a remedy for Athlete’s foot.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply Vicks on your nails twice daily
- Apply Vicks VapoRub on your clean and dry nails.
- Ensure that you cover the skin around the nails as well, as the fungus usually grows in the nail bed.
- Leave it on for a couple of hours or overnight. You can wrap your nails with gauze bandages to keep the Vicks from coming off.
- You don’t need to rinse off the VapoRub. If it bothers you too much, wipe off the excess with a clean cloth.
Repeat once daily for 2 to 3 months to heal the fungal infection completely.
Method 2: Use Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree essential oil is a powerful antibacterial and antiseptic that can treat yellow nails resulting from a bacterial or fungal infection. You can dilute the tea tree oil with some olive oil for faster healing and nourish your nails.
It is a popular first hand treatment suggested in case of yellow nails due to fungus. (4)
Tea tree oil can also be used to heal other fungal infections like ringworm.
Things you’ll need:
- Tea tree oil (antifungal) – 2 or 3 drops
- Olive oil (provides nourishment) – 1 tablespoon
Step 1. Add tea tree oil to olive oil
- Add 2 or 3 drops of tea tree essential oil to 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Mix the ingredients well.
Step 2. Apply the oil mix on your yellow nails
- Soak a cotton ball in the oil mix.
- Use it to apply the oil mix on your nails.
- If some of your nails appear healthy, still apply the oil but use a new cotton ball so you don’t inadvertently spread the fungus.
Apply the oil blend twice every day. This remedy will heal the infection and treat yellow nails in 2 to 3 months.
Method 3: Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, a popular anecdotal remedy is antifungal and antibacterial in nature, and can also be used to treat yellow nails due to an infection. (4) The acetic and malic acids present in the vinegar help reduce the discoloration. Applying apple cider vinegar will also promote healthy nail growth.
Step 1. Dilute apple cider vinegar with warm water
- Pour ½ cup of apple cider vinegar into a bowl.
- Add ½ cup of warm water to it.
- Stir the mixture well.
Step 2. Soak your nails in diluted apple cider vinegar twice daily
- Soak your nails in the diluted apple cider vinegar for a good 20 minutes.
- Let your nails air-dry or pat them dry with a towel. You don’t need to rinse off the vinegar.
- Follow it with a moisturizer.
Use this remedy twice daily to get rid of yellow nails in 2 to 3 months.
Tips to get rid of yellow nails
- When applying dark-colored nail polish, always use a base coat to prevent staining your nails.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables to supply essential vitamins to your body. It will help ensure healthy nails as well as a healthy body.
- Vignes S, Baran R. Yellow nail syndrome: a review. Orphanet journal of rare diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28241848. Published February 27, 2017.
- Roopa KB, Basappa N, Prabhakar AR, Raju OS, Lamba G. Effect of Whitening Dentifrice on Micro Hardness, Colour Stability and Surface Roughness of Aesthetic Restorative Materials. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27134991. Published March 2016.
- Derby R, Rohal P, Jackson C, Beutler A, Olsen C. Novel treatment of onychomycosis using over-the-counter mentholated ointment: a clinical case series. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21209346. Published 2011.
- Nail fungus: Polish, cream or tablets? InformedHealth.org [Internet]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279546/. Published June 14, 2018.
Summary of How to Get Rid of Yellow Nails
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