Why are my toenails discolored?

Healthy toenails have a clear and partially translucent color which is an indication of a healthy body. Often, one of the first symptoms of an underlying illness is discolored nails.

Toenail discoloration is also known as chromonychia and can have many causes. These range from minor injuries to potentially serious health conditions. The discoloration can appear yellow, green, blue, purple, or black.

Why are my toenails discolored?

Causes of toenail discoloration

Nail fungus or onychomycosis

Toe nail fungus can make your toe nails become yellow, reddish brown, green, or black. If left untreated, the infection will spread, and the discolored area will get larger. Some common causes of nail fungus are sweaty and damp feet, walking barefoot, cuts or scraps near the nail, and improper foot hygiene.


Trauma to the nail like stubbing the foot or dropping heavy objects on it can cause a subungual hematoma which leads to a red or purple discoloration.

Improper shoes

Tight-fitting shoes can stop blood circulation to the toes resulting in discoloration. Nails will become bruised and purple.

Also Read: Suffering from Ingrown Toenails?

Health conditions

Nail discoloration can occur as a result of an underlying health condition. For example, psoriasis can manifest yellow-brown spots under the nail, cirrhosis can cause severe whiteness of nails, yellow can signal diabetes, etc.

Nail polish

Nail polish is one of the biggest culprits in regards to toenail discoloration. It contains chemicals like formalin, dimethylurea, or glyoxal that penetrate and stain the layers of keratin in your nail.


Toenails can get discolored due to some kinds of medication. Chemotherapy drugs cause darkening or white bands across the nail, rheumatoid arthritis drugs may cause a dark brown discoloration, antimalarial drugs cause toe nails to turn blackish blue, minocycline can give it a bluish gray tinge, and tetracycline antibiotics can cause yellow nails.

If you have Toe Nail Problems, you should see a podiatrist. They will be able to diagnose the reason for the discoloration and provide a treatment plan for it.


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