Yellow Nails: 11 Easy Home Remedies To Fight Fingernail Discoloration

We all know that great feeling when your natural nails finally begin to grow out. You’ve been treating your body well, giving it the vitamins it needs, and finally, it has rewarded you. No more fake nails! From now on, your hands will be au naturel, which will save you time and money during your next mani session.

But that happiness can be dimmed pretty quickly when you realize that your natural nails aren’t as shiny and clean as you imagined they would be. Instead, they look kind of yellow. And let’s admit it – yellow nails are not a good look.

There are a few reasons why that might be happening — but fortunately, there are also some easy solutions.  With 11 step-by-step solutions to choose from, as well as prevention methods to keep them from discoloring in the future, we’ll have your nails looking good as new in no time.

What Causes Nails To Turn Yellow?

Things that cause nails to turn yellow

 
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There are a few good reasons why your nails could be yellow — here’s what may be causing the color shift:

Colored Nail Polish (Very Common): Wearing nail polish for a prolonged period of time, especially dark colors, can cause nail discoloration. This is nothing to worry about; it’s simply the dye from your polish seeping into your nail texture. It is not dangerous and can be prevented by simply applying a clear base coat beforehand.

Tar And Nicotine (Very Common): If you’re a smoker, having yellow nails is unavoidable. The burning tar discolors your fingernails, and usually affects the pinky or middle finger most. The yellowing of your nails due to smoking probably doesn’t do that much damage to them. Well — at least not as much as to your lungs!

Fungal Infection (Common): If the previous two reasons don’t apply to you, then you have may a fungal infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, this common condition begins with white or yellow spots appearing under the nail, and it may require a dermatologist’s help to treat.

Other Health Problems (Very Rare): While it’s very unlikely, yellowing nails might be indicative of a health problem, such as an infection in your liver, heart, or lungs, according to the Journal Of Clinical Oncology. If you have any reason to believe that this may be possible, see your doctor so you can receive the medical attention and treatment you require.

Yellow Nail Syndrome (Very Rare): Yellow Nail Syndrome is a very rare medical condition that includes pleural effusions (fluid in the tissue surrounding the lungs), lymphedema (fluid retention in the body) and yellowing dystrophic nails, according to Rarediseases.org. This is a very serious illness that must be treated by professionals. As scary as it sounds, Yellow Nail Syndrome is a very unlikely reason for your yellow nails.

How To Fix Yellow Nails

Looking at yellow nails

 
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The solutions for lightening your yellow nails depend on the reason why they became discolored in the first place. That being said, it’s worth trying out a couple of methods for the best results.

Keep reading for a list of remedies you can test in the comfort of your home. Because everyone’s nails are different, some may not do a great job, while others may work wonders.

Method #1: Whitening Pencils

Using whitening pencil on yellow nails

 
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings
 

This method is the best instant-fix for yellow nails.

What you’ll need:

whitening pencil, which is available at a large number of places

How to whiten:

Clean all of the dirt and leftover nail polish from your nails.

Wet the tip of your whitening pencil.

Cover the entire tip with the white color.

 

Method #2: Whitening Toothpaste

Scrubbing nails with whitening toothpaste

 
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This method is excellent for discoloration from wearing nail polish — as liveabout.com can attest.

What you’ll need:

whitening toothpaste

nail brush or an old toothbrush

How to whiten:

Take some whitening toothpaste and put in on your nail brush (or an old toothbrush).

Gently scrub your nails with it until you see the discoloration from polish disappear.

Rinse your hands well and apply moisturizer.

Method #3: Lemon Juice

Squeezing lemon juice into bowl

 
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Woman’s Health praises this method as a solution for yellowing nails.

What you’ll need:

a fresh lemon or lemon juice

a shallow bowl

How to whiten:

Cut the fresh lemon in half and squeeze out the juice into the shallow bowl.

Soak your nails in the lemon juice for 10 to 15 minutes.

Rinse your hands well, and apply moisturizer.

Repeat this process daily until you are happy with the results.

Method #4: Orange Peel

Rubbing nails with orange peel

 
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings
 

Naturallivingideas.com says that oranges can strengthen nails while approving their appearance. Plus, they give a boost of antioxidants!

What you’ll need:

fresh orange peel

How to whiten:

Rub fresh orange peel on your nails every day until you see improvement.

 

Method #5: Denture Tablets

Dropping denture tablet into bowl of water

 
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This method is used by noted nail artist Miss Pop, according to instyle.com.

What you’ll need:

denture tablets

warm water

a shallow bowl

How to whiten:

Pour the warm water into the shallow bowl.

Dissolve one denture tablet.

Soak your nails in it for 10 to 15 minutes.

Rinse your hands well.

Repeat the process daily until you are happy with the results.

Method #6: Hydrogen Peroxide And Baking Soda

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda for yellow nails

 
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings
 

Marieclaire.com recommends this method as a solution for darker yellowing of the nails — is there anything those two ingredients can’t clean?

What you’ll need:

1 tbsp. 3% hydrogen peroxide

2 1/2 tbsps. baking soda

a shallow bowl

1 cotton swab

How to whiten:

Mix hydrogen peroxide and baking soda in the shallow bowl.

Apply the mixture to your nails with a cotton swab, and keep it on for three minutes.

Rinse well and apply moisturizer.

Repeat every six to eight weeks to regain the natural color of your nails.

Method #7: Light Buffing

Buffing yellow nails

 
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings
 

This method is also ideal if you’re experiencing a darker yellowing of the nails. Nail buffers are not a new invention, but they definitely work.

What you’ll need:

nail buffer

How to whiten:

Gently buff the top layer of your nails to get rid of the yellowing. Be careful though, because removing too much of the nail will weaken it.

Method #8: Listerine

Method #8: Listerine

 
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Yellowtoenailscured.com attests to the power of antiseptic mouthwashes (Listerine or otherwise), especially when it comes to toenails.

What you’ll need:

Listerine

a shallow bowl

How to whiten:

Pour some Listerine into a shallow bowl.

Soak your nails in it for 30 minutes.

Rinse extremities well and moisturize them.

Repeat daily for a week.

Method #9: Apple Cider Vinegar

Dipping yellow nails into apple cider vinegar soak

 
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings
 

According to livestrong.com, apple cider vinegar restores nails’ pH balance, which is important in the wake of a fungal infection.

What you’ll need:

½ cup of lukewarm water

½ cup of apple cider vinegar

a shallow bowl

How to whiten:

Pour the water and apple cider vinegar into the shallow bowl.

Soak your nails in the mixture for 20 minutes.

Rinse your hands well.

Repeat this process three times a day for three to four weeks. This will help you treat the fungal infection and get rid of the yellowing.

Method #10: Tea-Tree Oil

Applying tea tree oil to yellow nails

 
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings
 

Tea tree oil has natural antiseptic properties, according to goodhealthacademy.com, so it makes sense that it would help nails heal from a fungal infection.

What you’ll need:

tea-tree oil

How to whiten:

Apply a small amount of tea tree oil straight to your nails, leave it for five minutes, and then rinse it off with warm water.

Repeat this process two times a day for a few months. This will help you fight off the fungal infection, as well as restore the natural color of your nails.

Method #11: Juniper Berries

Dropping juniper berries into bowl

 
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings
 

Juniper berries have fungus-fighting power similar to tea-tree oil, according to toenailfungus1.com.

What you’ll need:

a handful of crushed juniper berries

lukewarm water

a shallow bowl

How to whiten:

Mix the crushed juniper berries and the water in the shallow bowl.

Soak your nails in the mixture for 20 minutes.

Rinse hands well and apply moisturizer.

Repeat the process every day for a few months.

How To Prevent Yellow Nails

Prevent yellow nails

 
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Although getting rid of yellow nails is not that hard, it is even easier to prevent discoloration before it happens. This, of course, works only if the yellow nails were not caused by a health issue. Here are a couple key steps you should start taking.

Wear A Clear Base Coat: When doing your manicure, always wear a clear base coat. This will not only seal and protect your nails from discoloring, it will also increase the life of the nail polish.

Avoid Dark Colored Nail Polish: Dark colors can be very effective and elegant on nails, but they also stain. If you want to avoid discoloration on your natural nails, try to choose lighter and more natural colors.

Quit Smoking: If you want your nails to stop yellowing, stop smoking. Yes, we know how hard it is to quit. But we also know it’s worth it.