Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish

Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish

Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish are almost always caused by a condition called keratin granulations:

  • This is the dehydration of the toenail plate.
  • Keratin granulations occur when the nail polish and the nail polish remover dehydrate and damage the nail due to their toxic chemical compounds.
  • This creates a white chalk like substance.

Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish

Keratin Granulations


Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish based on the Color:

Read our comprehensive guide on what conditions are most likely to cause discoloration of the nail plate underneath.



1)If the nail is White:

-Keratin Granulations, Leukonychia & Superficial White Onychomycosis (Nail Fungus)


2)If the nail is Black:

-Consider Jogger’s Toe or a Bleeding Toenail



Are Your Toenails White, Yellow or Black?


1) White Toenails: Keratin Granulations.

  • White toenails are usually just due to the dehydration of your toenails.
  • The nail plate is made up of a substance called keratin.
  • When dehydrated keratin becomes white keratin granulations.
  • Read below for the complete guide to keratin granulations!


Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish

Keratin Granulations


Keratin Granulations – White Chalky Toenails.

The #1 cause of discolored nails after removing your toenail polish is a white chalky like substance called keratin granulations.

  • These occur because nail polish has harmful chemicals in it like formaldehyde and toleune.
  • Nail polish remover has acetone within it.
  • There is a way to correct this by remoisturizing your nails:

Keratin Granulations  – The Complete Treatment Guide.


Can I Keep Using Toenail Polish?

Yes you can!

  • Just be aware that it will continue to dry out your nails.
  • You can wear it less frequently or you can try treating your nails before polishing them again.
  • There are even brands of toenail polish that will not dehydrate your nails.
  • Trust me, these brands are very well promoted!


How do I know for sure that this is not toenail fungus?

  • My recommendation: treat is like keratin granulations.
  • If the treatment does not make it better after 2 weeks, then it can still be toenail fungus.
  • Don’t worry, 2 weeks will not put your toenail fungus in any danger.
  • If it is a superficial toenail fungus, it should be very easily curable anyway.
  • If it does seem like toenail fungus or it is yellow, head to #3: toenail fungus.



 2) White Marks On Toenails: Leukonychia.

Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish

 White spots on the toenails are due to a condition known as leukonychia:

  • These are permanent until the toenail grows out.
  • Unfortunately the toenail grows very slowly.
  • The toenail only grows at a rate of 1mm/ day.



3) Yellow Thick Toenails: Toenail Fungus.


The second most common cause of discolored toenails.

  • This is usually a type called superficial white onychomycosis that is not as serious as most nail fungus; this type is very easily cured with a topical cream that you can put on your nails.
  • If you want to use toenail polish, be more worried about dry nails and how to rehydrate them and not how to prevent fungus.


Is the toenail fungus dangerous?

  • The toenail fungus should be very curable with proper treatment.
  • Superifical white onychomycosis is very easily treatable with antifungal medication.
  • It is not the type of fungus that takes root deep under your toenail.

 The Complete Toenail Fungus Guide.




4)Black, Red or Blue Toenail: Subungual Hematoma.

Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish
Bleeding underneath the toenail can look black, red or blue!


 Jogger’s toe is essentially just “overuse toe”.

  • The trick with this one is it sneaks up on people without any pain!
  • Be aware that you can still have bleeding underneath your toenail and it doesn’t have to be extremely painful.
  • For example I just saw a woman had a scary black toenail without any cause.
  • But the more I talked to her I realized she bought new shoes and started Zumba classes.
  • She was exercising more, had small shoes and was not suffering from any pain!

Even if there is no pain, light micro-trauma from walking or running could have caused you to develop little black spots underneath your toenails that are the result of light bleeding.

  • Unless there is pain this is usually very harmless and it should not be something that you worry about.
  • Over time the nail will grow out and the black spot will disappear unless you continue irritating it.



For more on Discolored Toenails from Nail Polish:

Nail Fungus From Polish


Toenail Fungus Is 80% Of All Toenail Problems:


Associated Toe Problems

  1. Foot Corn.

  2. Foot Blister.

  3. Callus Foot Pain.

  4. Swollen Painful Toe.

  5. Fractured Hallux.

  6. Foot Wart (Verruca).

  7. Itchy and Red Skin.


  1. Psoriasis under the toenails.
  2. Lichen planus
  3. Eczema
  4. Bacterial infection
  5. Foot Wart
  6. Subungual melanoma
  7. Swollen Nail Bed
  8. Toe Osteochondroma
  9. Keratin Granulations Treatment
About the author

The Modern Podiatrist (Foot and Ankle Specialist Doctor):Today's podiatrist is required to undergo rigorous medical training that licenses them as physicians with equivalent legal standing to the MD and DO degree (These are physician recognized licenses most common only in the USA). Although admittedly the training does differ between the three degrees. The differences are listed below.In Michigan Podiatrists are trained and authorized to perform surgery in the foot and ankle up to the tibial tubercle below the knee.All our podiatrists and foot doctors have undergone rigorous training including a 4 undergraduate college degree, writing the medical school entrance exam (MCAT), followed by a 4 year medical school degree (DPM - Doctor of Podiatric Medicine),Once podiatrists in the USA complete the rigorous 4 year medical school courses, they are required to complete a minimum of 3 years of a surgical and non-surgical residency program. Some podiatrists and foot doctors then choose to go on to further fellowship training specializing in various forms of specialty such as diabetic surgery or reconstructive foot and ankle surgery.The training is not over yet! Each podiatrist must be judged by a governing body where they submit their surgical cases and are reviewed regularly to ensure excellent results. This is a career long evaluation with board qualifications and certifications every few years.So have faith that today's podiatrist is your best choice for your foot and ankle problems! We are able to approach you foot and ankle problems from a non-surgery perspective, but that when necessary we can provide you with the treatment that you need!All articles written by this account are considered to be for educational purposes only. It is impossible for us to truly assess your condition and the advice we give here is meant to give you a basis to then follow up with your podiatrist and foot doctor later.If you have any questions at all, or there is anything that we can help you with, please feel free to contact our office or email us. Podiatrists provide medically necessary treatment which should be covered by valid insurance plans, we are not a cosmetic or elective medical specialty.