May 31, 2016

Nail Discoloration

MedicineNet - Nail Discoloration

Nail Discoloration Symptoms & Signs

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Symptoms & Signs

Nail discoloration, in which the nails appear white, yellow, or green, can result from different infections and conditions of the skin. In about 50% of cases, discolored nails are a result of infections with common fungi that can be found in the air, dust, and soil. There are many species of fungi that can affect nails. By far the most common, however, is called Trichophyton rubrum. This type of fungus has a tendency to infect the skin and is therefore known as a dermatophyte. Pseudomonas is a type of bacteria that infects the nail bed and results in a greenish color to the nails. Red or black (that may sometimes appear bruised) nails may result from a hematoma (a collection of blood) under the nail as a result of trauma (including ingrown toenails).

Chronic medical conditions also can affect the appearance of the nails. Specific color changes in the nails can be suggestive of diabetes or of liver, kidney, heart, or lung conditions. This is why doctors pay specific attention to nails during a routine physical examination.

Other, rare causes of discolored nails include the "yellow nail syndrome," an inherited condition that results in slow-growing, yellowing, discolored nails and is associated with lymphedema (swelling of tissues due to the accumulation of fluid) and lung diseases. Nails may also appear lightened to a whitish-yellow color if there has been separation of the nail from the nail bed, termed onycholysis.

The skin, mucous membranes, and nails may appear blue when there is inadequate oxygenation of blood (cyanosis), but this is not true discoloration of the nail itself.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/9/2015

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REFERENCE:

Longo, D.L., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

Causes of Nail Discoloration
    • Atopic Dermatitis Eczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of...learn more »
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      • What are the stages of atopic dermatitis?
      • How do physicians diagnose atopic dermatitis?
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    • Cardiovascular Disease (CVD, Heart Disease) Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to...learn more »
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      Cardiovascular Disease (CVD, Heart Disease) Article
      • What is cardiovascular disease?
      • What are the risk factors for cardiovascular disease?
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    • Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) Diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. The two types of diabetes are...learn more »
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      Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) Article
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      • How many people in the US have diabetes?
      • 6 early signs and symptoms of diabetes
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      • Type 1 diabetes
      • Type 2 diabetes
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      • Why is blood sugar checked at home?
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    • Fungal Nails Fungal nails (onychomycosis) may be caused by many species of fungi, but the most common is Trichophyton rubrum. Distal subungal...learn more »
    • Hypertensive Kidney Disease High blood pressure can damage the kidneys and is one of the leading causes of kidney failure (end-stage renal kidney disease)....learn more »
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      • High blood pressure and kidney disease facts*
      • Introduction to high blood pressure (hypertension) and kidney disease
      • What is high blood pressure?
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      • What are the signs and symptoms of chronic kidney disease? (CKD)?
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      • Hope Through Research
    • Ingrown Toenail (Onychocryptosis) Ingrown toenails are caused by the growth of the toenail into the surrounding nail fold. Symptoms and signs include toe pain,...learn more »
    • Jaundice (Adults) Jaundice in adults may be caused by a variety of medical diseases or conditions. Some cases of jaundice can be managed at home...learn more »
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      • What are the complications of jaundice in adults?
      • Can jaundice in adults be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis of jaundice in adults?
    • Lichen Planus Lichen planus is a common skin disease that features small, itchy pink or purple spots on the arms or legs. the abnormal areas on...learn more »
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    • Liver Disease Liver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases such as gallstones, high cholesterol...learn more »
    • Lymphedema Lymphedema is a condition in which one or more extremities become swollen as the result of an impaired flow of the lymphatic...learn more »
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    • Psoriasis Psoriasis is a long-term skin condition that may cause large plaques of red, raised skin, flakes of dry skin, and skin scales....learn more »
      In This Article
      Psoriasis Article
      • Psoriasis facts
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Other Causes of Nail Discoloration
  • Bacterial Infection
  • Candidiasis
  • Chronic Lung Diseases
  • Drug Hypersensitivity (for Example, Tetracycline)
  • Malnutrition
  • Senile Ischemia (Onychogryphosis)
  • Onycholysis
  • Staining From Nail Varnish or Cosmetic Products
  • Trauma
  • Yellow Nail Syndrome
Examples of Medications for Nail Discoloration


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