Advanced Pedicures | Toenail Discoloration

What can cause a discolored nail?

Toenails can become discolored for a variety of reasons including medical conditions, injury or trauma, and fungal infections.  Knowing the cause of the discoloration can greatly assist in addressing the condition appropriately, as many of the causes can be addressed with over-the-counter products and proper maintenance of the nails. 

big toe with yellowed toenail bad kitti claws

Fungal infection

Fungal infections can have many causes, and can be more common when other nail conditions like ingrown nails or pincer nails create space under the nail where dirt and moisture can accumulate. Fungal toenail infections can cause discoloration, turning nails white, yellow, reddish-brown, green, or black.

    Fungal infections can usually be remedied with over-the-counter antifungal products along with regular proper maintenance of the nails. One of the most common toenail fungal conditions is called Onychomycosis, which causes yellowing or whitening of the nails.

    common fungal infections of the toenail

    Medical conditions

    Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, circulation issues, and some nerve conditions can cause your toenails to change color. We conduct a thorough consultation before every Advanced Pedicure, which includes a screening for common medical conditions that can affect the nails.  As we cannot diagnose or treat medical conditions, in certain appropriate circumstances we may refer you to a Podiatrist or Medical Doctor to receive care before scheduling your pedicure*. 


    Injuries to the toes and feet can commonly cause discoloration to toenails, as blood vessels can rupture or become damaged under the nail.  This is common in individuals who are active in sports or avid runners.  The damage can, at times, cause toenails to turn black and even fall off in extreme cases.  With proper care, cleaning, and at-home maintenance, a healthy nail can usually be regrown, and an Advanced Pedicure can help to promote healthy nail growth and protect from further damage and fungal infection.

    How do I know if I have nail fungus?

    You may have nail fungus if you notice one or more of the following on your nail(s):

    • Thickened nails
    • Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration
    • Brittle, crumbly or ragged nail surfaces
    • Mis-shaped or deformed nails
    • A dark color, caused by debris impacted or building up under your nail
    • A foul odor
    Mayo Clinic Foot Fungus Diagram Image

      How can an Advanced Pedicure prevent discolored nails or nail fungus?

      Our specially trained Advanced Nail Technician will first conduct an assessment of your damaged or discolored toenail, which will include a brief screening to determine existing medical conditions, and a physical assessment of your toes and nails.  Although we cannot provide any services until the live tissue around the nail has healed, once healed we will normally be able to provide the appropriate level of service to beautify most toenail damage*.

      An Advanced Pedicure will provide a thorough cleaning of the sidewalls and the free edge under the front of the nail which can remove debris that can host nail fungus.  Nails will additionally be cut and trimmed in a manner to prevent ingrown nails and allow curving and lifting nails to grow forward in a healthy manner to hopefully flatten and eliminate the open space between the nail and the skin of the toe.  This open space is the perfect environment for fungus, so encouraging healthy nail growth can help prevent future problems.  If nails are discolored, we have several products available that may be able to help restore normal nail coloration.  

      before and after pedicure with toenail fungus

      We may also recommend a Nail Mycosis, Athlete's Foot, or Shoe & Sock Spray product from Imperial Feet, which can effectively address most nail fungus and foot fungus conditions, and can aid in restoring normal coloration to toenails.

      See all of our Advanced Pedicure at-home product bundles here.

       Can discolored toenails be prevented?

       Here are some tips to prevent discolored toenails:

      • Wear properly fitting shoes that do not squeeze or put pressure on the toes
      • Keep your toenails trimmed short
      • Wear clean socks and shoes
      • Dry your feet well after swimming or bathing
      • Avoid walking barefoot
      • Avoid putting on socks or shoes while your feet are wet or damp
      • Spray your shoes with an antifungal spray to prevent fungal growth, such as Imperial Feet Shoe & Sock Spray


      *In very few cases, we may recommend you seek a medical assessment or treatment from a Podiatrist or Medical Doctor for your condition(s) prior to scheduling services.  As we cannot treat or diagnose medical conditions, occasionally this is necessary as a condition may appear to be beyond our scope of practice. This happens very rarely, as we can usually provide services to address most conditions we see.  If we ask you to seek medical care, please understand it is only in the interest of your health and well-being, as that is our main concern with our clients.  Once you are medically cleared, we will be happy to provide services to you and get your feet feeling great!     





      UPMC Health Beat, April 18, 2018, "Discolored Toenails: How to Treat Nail Discoloration"

      Mayo Clinic, July 14, 2020, "Nail Fungus", Mayo Clinic Staff