Your Nails


Discolored toenails are not pretty. If you have discolored nails, you probably avoid sandals or bury your feet in the sand at the beach. Fortunately, there are ways you can get those feet sandal ready in no time.


Dark polishes. Dark nail polishes like red, brown or purple have pigments that can stain nails causing yellowing. Ways to avoid the yellowing include wiping off nail polish more often, such as every two weeks, as well as using acetone nail polish remover. Using a base coat prevents the nail polish from reaching the nail surface and staining it. Buffing nails in between nail polish applications can remove stains. Lemons are natural brighteners for the nail. Using pale hues like pink are great alternatives that are nonstaining and great for summer.


Walking barefoot. Walking barefoot can cause problems for your nails. Fungal spores live and grow on surfaces, especially moist surfaces like bathroom or gym floors. These microorganisms can get in and around your nails and feet, causing fungus. They can infect the nail, resulting in discoloration, brittleness and sometimes thickening. It may also cause lifting of the nail as well as  pain.


It’s important to spot the changes in the nail as early as possible. Changes in the nail can be hard to spot but can gradually worsen over time, becoming very unsightly. If you have yellowing of the nail that does not go away after using nail polish remover or buffing, ask your podiatrist to recommend an antifungal nail treatment that is right for you. Pedicures are great for pampering feet but be advised, salons that do not properly sterilize and clean spa treatment areas and equipment put you at risk for getting infections. “Remember to dry in between toes thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes. Moisture creates an environment for fungus to live and grow,” says Klara Chrzuszcz, esthetician and owner of Klara Beauty Lab in New York City.  

Trimming toenails. Trim nails regularly, such as every six weeks, to avoid injury to nails. If nails are kept too long the tips of the nail can bump against the shoe. Over time, this causes damage to the nail, resulting in discoloration. There are tiny capillaries in the nail bed skin that lie directly beneath the nail. These tiny vessels may rupture, resulting in blackish discoloration of the nail. Over time, the nail may fall off.  By trimming nails every six weeks and wearing shoes that allow enough room for toes to wiggle, you can avoid this problem.


Seek medical advice. If you notice discoloration or other changes to your nails, consult your doctor. Sometimes, changes in the color, texture or shape of the nail can signal other health problems. If you are diabetic, immune-compromised or have poor circulation, do not try to address the problems yourself. See your podiatrist. I generally see my diabetic patients every three months for diabetic foot care. This way I can keep a check on their feet and treat any issues that may arise.


Dr. Jean Archer is a podiatrist and specialist in aesthetic medicine. She is the owner of  Eden Spa Foot Care in Richmond Hill, N.Y. She may be reached by email at