Top 5 Causes of Nail Discoloration in Children

One of the most common health problems affecting children today is discolored nails. The nails may turn white, black, dark brown, red, yellow or even green, depending on the cause of the problem. If your child has discolored toenails, it is very important to pinpoint the underlying cause of the problem as early as possible so that you can be able to administer the best treatment to restore the normal nail color. The following are some of the most common causes of nail discoloration in children that you should know about:

Toenail Fungus

Fungal infection is one of the major causes of nail discoloration. The nails are discolored by a type of fungus known as dermatophytes. Apart from discoloring the nails, the fungus also causes the nails to produce awful discharges and odors, thicken, develop crumbling edges and drop off. Toenails are more vulnerable to fungal infection as compared to fingernails because they are usually encased in shoes. Shoes provide a warm and dark environment for the fungus to grow.

To treat fungal infections, you can use recommended topical or oral antifungal medications. You can also use antifungal nail polish such as ciclopirox. If these remedies fail to cure the infection, you can try laser treatment for toenail fungus. Its one of the best ways to treat toenail fungus.


There are some medications that can cause nail discoloration. The discolored nails can regain their original color once the medication is stopped and the nails grow out. Drugs that may discolor nails include antibiotics such as minocycline, chemotherapy drugs such as bleomycin, arsenic poisoning and azidothymidine (AZT), a type of antiretroviral drug used for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Effects on nails may include brown tints, white bands, gray discoloration or bluish-black color.

Constant Trauma

If your child is constantly falling or kicking things with his bare feet, his/her toenails can easily be discolored. Repeated impact of the shoes against your child’s toenails may also cause bleeding under the nails. This eventually causes the nails to turn black and fall off. To keep your child protected, make sure he/she is putting on thick socks and shoes when going to school or playing.

Atopic Dermatitis

Children are very susceptible to skin ailments like atopic dermatitis. The condition is characterized by itchy, peeling skin that may darken or thicken as the bacterial infection continues to grow. As it progresses, the condition can also affect the nails, giving them an unpleasant yellow color.


Jaundice is the yellowish pigmentation of the skin, mucous membranes and the sclerae (whites of the eye) caused by increased levels of chemical bilirubin in the blood (Hyperbilirubinemia). In children, jaundice first affects the face, especially noticeable in the whites of the eyes. As it progresses, the yellow color spreads to other parts of the body, including the nails.


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