This is the time of year many enjoy the colors of fall as we move into a new season. While we all can appreciate the yellows, reds, and oranges we might not necessarily want to see those same colors in our toenails. Your toenails' color, texture, and shape might actually provide information about your health that you might not otherwise be aware of. When you know how to "read" toenail health indicators, you can identify other systemic issues that may need to be addressed with your podiatrist.

Like your fingernail, a healthy toenail is a light pink color. Any yellowing or hints of black hue indicate a problem. For instance, you are most likely to have a fungal infection if your toenails start to become yellow. Yellowing can also be a side effect of diabetes, liver disease, or smoking.

White spots on your toenails may indicate a fungal infection. The affected toenail will eventually thicken and turn a hazy yellow-brown color, as well as other nearby nails if the problem spreads. Along with the white spots, you might also see some black and green flecks.

Your toenail may become thick from the nail fungus, making it difficult to clip. Your nails will eventually become brittle and break, causing you discomfort, swelling, and difficulty walking. You should speak with a foot expert as soon as you notice any white spots on your toenail.Yellowing nails

You should be tested for anemia if your toenails are entirely white. If your nails have white bands or stripes running across them, this can indicate that your diet may be lacking in protein.

Blue nails could be a sign that the blood isn't delivering enough oxygen to the toes. There are a wide variety of potential causes, some of which are serious. The cold-weather-related condition called “Raynaud’s phenomenon”, or sometimes called, “Raynaud’s disease”causes  toes to turn a mottled blue tint when the temperature drops. This is because of the tiny blood arteries in the toes constrict. Warmth expands the blood vessels, which results in a reddening of the toes and other symptoms including tingling and a "pins and needles" feeling, turning the toes white, blue, then red.

Black toenailBlack or purple toenails most likely mean you have a subungual hematoma, a bruise under the nail. It can be acquired by footwear that compress your feet into the front of the shoe or by stubbing your toe. Black toenails could be a sign of anemia, an infection, or a vitamin B12 deficiency.  Dark streaks under the nail may be an indication of a severe skin cancer called melanoma.

Gray nails may be caused by a poor diet, glaucoma, lung issues, or arthritis.

Red toenails could be caused by a hematoma under the nail. This is frequently caused by trauma or injury to the toenail. Ingrown toenails can also result in red toenails. A cardiac problem may also be linked to red toenails.


Numerous over-the-counter medications and sprays don't work well to cure toenail fungus. They might make things look better, but often, they don't get rid of the infection itself. For toenail discoloration caused by a fungal infection, prescription medicine works better. We carry many prescription options in our office. Most medications require consistent treatment for up to a year.

In order to treat toenail fungus fast, Dr. Stewart at Grandville Foot and Ankle prefers to use laser therapy, which has been shown to be 88–90% effective and only requires 10 minutes per session. Most people require 3–4 treatments at most. The most effective form of treatment for patients with toenail discoloration brought on by arthritis or impaired blood flow is laser therapy, which requires 10–20 minutes per session. 


If you need a toenail discoloration diagnosis, make an appointment to see Dr. Stewart. She'll correctly identify the underlying cause, provide the best course of therapy for your particular condition, and give you advice on how to stop toenail discoloration in the future. We can direct you to the best professional in your area if the toenail coloring is caused by a more serious health condition.


Grandville Foot and Ankle serves patients from Grandville, Jenison, Hudsonville, Georgetown, Zeeland, Grand Rapids, Caledonia, Kentwood, Lowell, and throughout Michigan. Contact us to schedule your appointment with Dr. Sarah Stewart.