What causes fingernails to turn brown?

If you are like me, you have probably been checking your fingernails every few minutes to make sure they are still the same color. But one day, you notice that your once pink and healthy fingernails have turned brown! What the heck is happening? Before you spiral into a panic and start googling ‘101 ways to get rid of brown nails’, let’s take a closer look at what might be causing this phenomenon.

Factors That Might Be Itching Your Nails

There could be several reasons for the discoloration on your nails. Here are some factors that might have contributed.

Iron Overdose: Will You Become A Man Of Steel?

Are you someone who likes to supplement their diet with iron pills because #HealthyLiving? While iron is essential for our body functions in small doses, an overdose can lead to health issues; yes even SUPERHEROES need balanced diets. Excessive iron absorption can cause overproduction of melanin pigments, which give our skin its color, but when accumulated under our nails cause them to turn brown.

Peaty Ingestion – Love For Tea Can Turn To Soil

Do you start each morning with a cuppa of herbal tea or caffeine overdose from coffee shops around town? The presence of tannins in tea leaves interacts with keratin protein present in nail beds results in staining(why leave spinach stains all alone?!)The longer the contact time between nail bed and leaves more intensity stain becomes visualized (Patience may pay off but now costs beauty) . Fortunately,this type discoloration may not last as long as other causes since it appears only on superficial layer on top.

Age Matters – If Only Like Wines They Got Better!

There must be some compensations from aging…right?! As we age many bodily processes naturally slow down including maintenance done by our Nail Matrix, the powerhouse of healthy nail growth. Over time they accumulate along with dermis layers leading to a yellow-brown or green tinge appearing (Golden nails mode-on?!). This can be treatable by reducing reliance on strong cleaning agents and moisturizing lotions.

Fungal Infection-The Struggle Is Real

We all know how unpleasant fungal infections can be. They are irritating and ‘sticky’ insects that refuse to leave us alone! Fungal infections thrive in warm, damp environments, making toenails more prone to this condition than fingernails mainly due hygiene difference between hands and feet. Note: It’s 2021 please limit sharing socks If you notice other symptoms like thickened or brittle nails then fungus gone rouge.

When To Seek Professional Advice

If you have tried at-home remedies/coverups/substitute products like matching gloves for hiding embarrassment(we would pry them off anyway) but the color is too aggressive or there are additional signs such as painful nails, health issues etc check with Board certified Medical professional before google takes over.

Minimizing Risk

Apart from avoiding your own at-home Oompa Loompa experiment, here are some tips that could help reduce risks;

  • Wear gloves while doing chores – we don’t want dish detergent stains.
  • Limit contact with chemicals(eyedrops may cause brown pigmentation)
  • Keep your nails dry & clean
  • Don’t forget those monthly pedicures 😉


Now that we’ve explored different factors contributing towards brown discoloration of our nails ,let’s not jump into hardcore treatments without verifying potential reasons it happened. Instead of adding another fixation on ourselves let’s cherish individuality without judgement(also manicured fingers feel cool!). Keep environment hygienic supporting happy nail habits; afterall strangers first glance begins when handshake😉