Smokers may be all too familiar with yellow fingers, but if a yellow tinge has appeared on your fingernails and you don't know the reason, it's worth getting it checked out. The reason may be trivial but it could also be an indication of something serious.

Nail fungus is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolour, thicken and crumble at the edge.

There are a number of other worrying health conditions linked to yellow nails that you should be aware of.

One of the most common causes of yellow nails is a fungal infection.

“As the infection worsens, the nail bed may retract, and nails may thicken and crumble,” says WebMD.

The health site added: “In rare cases, yellow nails can indicate a more serious condition such as severe thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.”

Thyroid disease

Thyroid disease is a general term for a medical condition which keeps the thyroid from making the right amount of hormones.

The thyroid typically is responsible for making hormones which keep the body functioning normally.

A swollen fingertip, curved nail, and thickening skin above a nail are also nails signs warning of thyroid disease.

Lung disease

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Yellow nail syndrome is a rare condition defined by the presence of yellow nails associated with chronic respiratory problems.

A person with yellow nails may have respiratory symptoms, such as a chronic cough, and usually have swollen lower legs or ankles.

“Experts don’t know what causes yellow nail syndrome,” says Cleveland Clinic.

“But it may be linked to improper circulation, issues with lymphatic drainage or build-up of fluid around your lungs.”

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In some people with diabetes, the nails take on a yellowish hue.

Often this colouring has to do with the breakdown of sugar and its effect on the collagen in nails.

This kind of yellowing isn't harmful and doesn't need to be treated.


Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes flaky patches of skin.

Signs of psoriasis on the nails include:

  • Tiny dents in your nails
  • White, yellow or brown discolouration
  • Crumbling nails
  • Nails separating from you finger or toe
  • Build up beneath your nail
  • Blood under your nail

If you have any of these symptoms, or are worried you may suffer from any of these illnesses, you should see your GP.

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