Yellow toenails are one of the manifestations of onychomycosis also termed as dermatophytic onychomycosis, tinea unguium, and ringworm of the nail. Normally the toenails do not turn yellow in color right away. The fungal infection should spread and multiply first before the whole nail becomes colored.
Types of Onychomycosis
Distal subungual onychomycosis is the most common and usually invades the nail bed as well as the sides and edges of the nail plate. Another type of onychomycosis is WSO or white superficial onychomycosis. This type has an affinity to superficial layers of the nail plate causing the formation of white spots. WSO is not common since it only accounts to a few percent of total cases.
This type of onychomycosis should be confirmed first by certain definitive tests because it is often confused with keratin granulations which are not caused by a fungal infection but rather by nail polish reaction. Next is proximal subungual onychomycosis which has an affinity to the proximal nail folds.
This type is the least common type of onychomycosis; however: individuals with compromised immune system may acquire this disease.
Lastly, unlike the first three classifications, candidal onychomycosis is candida microorganism invasion. Those individuals who frequently immerse or soak their hands or toes in water are susceptible in acquiring this type of infection.
Onychomycosis signs and symptoms
- This disease invades the nail plate causing its abnormal thickness.
- The appearance of the nail changes, it becomes yellowish in color or it can appear as cloudy.
- The texture of the nail also changes, it becomes rough and uneven, or in worst cases, it can be separated from its nail bed.
- If the infection is only mild, pain is not expected as well as other physical changes.
Onychomycosis treatment and management
Onychomycosis is a kind of infection that is difficult to manage since the infected area is underneath the nails making it hard to apply topical medications. Toenail removal is the only way to treat this disease and it must be done by a healthcare professional. Application of antifungal creams, lotions, or ointments on the infected area can be done as a part of pharmacological approach.
Other people use tea tree oil as an alternative to antifungal topical medications; however, this approach is not yet proven and still needs recommendation. As a replacement for antibiotics, grapefruit seed extract can be used.
Most people prefer this natural approach since no adverse reactions are at stake. Experts say that snakeroot leaf extract can be used as a treatment for mild onychomycosis. The fungal or bacterial infection should be managed first before yellow toenails return to their normal appearance.