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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Yellow Nail Syndrome

Yellow Nail Syndrome

Yellow Nail syndrome or YNS is a condition which generally consists of three symptoms like lymphedema, yellow discolored nails and Pleural Effusion. Sometimes only two features are present in some patients and even then it can be referred as Yellow Nail syndrome. More than 40% of the patients will have Bronchiectasis.

It is considered to be a very rare syndrome in which there are dystrophic yellow discolored nails along with pleural effusion. Sometimes the disease is also associated with chronic sinusitis and persistent coughing. Most commonly the victims are adults. Lymphedema presents as swelling of some or other body part which is due to either the blockage of the vital lymph system or may be due to some damaged in the lymphatic drainage system. The pleural effusion is generally recurrent and most of the times it is troubling and results in symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Generally all of the nails are affected
  • Either growth of the nails is completely stopped or is sluggish
  • Nails show yellowish green discoloration, edges may be sometimes dark, and also the nails become thick
  • Generally nails are smooth and cross ridged but it seems that nails lose their cuticles
  • Onycholysis is also reported in some cases, in which the nails get separated from the nail bed. It is reported that it is not necessary that all the nails will be affected; the condition can affect only few nails also.
  • One or the more of the body parts are swollen at the times, most frequently being the lower limbs. Although the swelling can involve any of the body part
  • Nails are generally the first to get affected. Even swelling can remain unnoticed for several months
  • Hands, face and genitals are less commonly involved in terms of swelling
  • Patient may have significant past history of recurrent bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonia


The exact cause is still unknown but it is found associated with many diseases like –

  • Chronic Bronchiectasis
  • Sinusitis
  • Pleural effusions
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Immunodeficiency Syndromes
  • Malignancies

Treatment and medications

  • Topical vitamin E and oral antifungal drugs for the nails
  • Some patients are also prescribed nutritional vitamin E supplementation and Zinc supplementation
  • Symptomatic treatment for underlying pleural effusion and bronchiectasis