How To Get Rid of Smells Under Nails

If you’re like me, you want to keep your hands and feet looking as good as possible. The way that nails are cared for is an important part of this, especially if you want them to look nice and healthy. However, sometimes people develop a problem with their nails that makes them smell bad.

This can be caused by lots of different things: poor circulation, an infection under the nail bed, or even something as simple as not washing hands properly. If you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of smells under your nails or what might be causing them in the first place then read on because we’re going to cover everything right here.

What Causes Smells Under Nails?

1. Bacteria

The main cause of smells under nails is bacteria. Bacteria on your hands can also lead to other skin issues, such as eczema and psoriasis. The good news is that you can treat the problem at home with some simple steps.

2. Fungus under nails

Fungus is a type of microorganism that can grow on your skin and nails, causing a number of health problems. Fungal infections are common and often difficult to get rid of. Fungus under nails is one such infection it’s caused by poor hygiene and can lead to serious health issues if left untreated.

3. Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene is a major cause of smelly nails. The more you expose your hands to the elements, the more likely they are to become dry and cracked. Dry skin is less resilient than healthy skin that has been properly moisturized by lotions or creams, so it’s easier for bacteria and fungi to get inside your body through the cracks in your fingers.

If you don’t practice good hygiene when washing your hands, these infections can lead to bad smells under nails as well as other problems like fungal infections and infections that are difficult to treat.

4. Infection under nails

There are many causes of infection under the nails, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In most cases, the infections are harmless and can be treated with medications. However, if you have a history of diabetes or poor circulation to your feet and legs, you may be at risk for serious complications from infection under your nails.

Infections under your nails can be prevented by practicing proper hygiene: washing hands before touching your feet or using footbaths containing antiseptics between pedicures to kill germs on the skin surface (either store-bought or homemade). If you do develop an infection under your nail(s), see a doctor immediately to avoid further damage.

5. Poor circulation

Poor circulation can be a cause of strong, foul-smelling odors under your nails. The most common reason for poor blood flow is aging as you get older, you often find that the circulation in your hands slows down and becomes less efficient. You may also notice that cold weather or being out in the wind makes it harder for your fingers or toes to stay warm and cozy.

In addition to the smells caused by poor circulation under nails, this condition can lead to other problems like dry skin on the hands and feet that are more prone to cracking and peeling off if not properly cared for.

If you notice under-nail discoloration (especially yellowish), thickened skin around your cuticles, inflammation around the nail beds as well as any other unusual changes in the texture or appearance of your nails then it’s best to see a doctor right away.

6. Smoking

Smoking is one of the most common causes of smelly nails. Not only does smoking cause yellow and brown spots on your fingernails, but it can also make your nails brittle and thick. Smoking also dries out your skin, which can lead to cracked cuticles and hangnails.

Try using a nail scrub on a daily basis after washing your hands in order to remove any leftover dirt or oil from under the surface of your fingernails.

7. Medication

In addition to the previous steps, medication can have an adverse effect on your nails. Some medications can cause your nails to become discolored, brittle, or even lose their shape completely. For example, if you take an antibiotic for a long period of time and it gives rise to a funky smell under your nails, be sure to visit your doctor about this issue.

12 Ways To Get Rid of Smells Under Nails

1. Proper Hygiene Helps

In order to get rid of unpleasant smells under your nails, it’s important to keep them dry and clean. You should also keep your nails short so that they don’t trap food particles or dirt. Nail biting is another habit you should stop because it can cause fungal infections in your nails, which will make them more susceptible to having an odor.

To keep the area around your nails clean, you should wash your hands with soap and water regularly. It’s also good practice to wash dishes with hot soapy water as soon after eating as possible and always before putting them away for later use.

The most important thing about proper hygiene is practicing good habits in general: regularly washing your hands can help prevent the build-up of bacteria on the skin surface that leads to bad smells under nails.

2. Soak Nails in Water

Soaking your nails in water is one of the best ways to get rid of smells under your nails, as it helps kill off bacteria, soften the nail and remove debris. Just add some warm water to a bowl and dunk your hands for five minutes.

3. Wash Hands with Soap and Water

You can prevent nail odors by washing your hands with soap and water immediately after using the restroom. You should also wash your hands after working with animals, particularly cats or dogs, as their breath contains a lot of bacteria that can lead to unpleasant smells under your fingernails.

Nail smell is typically caused by sweat trapped under the nails. The best way to get rid of these odors is by washing your hands with warm soapy water after doing any strenuous activity or touching animals. If possible, make sure you wear gloves when petting animals so that they don’t get on your skin and cause an infection underneath them which may result in smelly nails later on down the road.

4. Try Alcohol

You can also try applying alcohol. This is an effective antiseptic and disinfectant, and it can help to cleanse your nails.

To use alcohol to cleanse your nails, simply pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball or pad and wipe it over the affected nail(s). Rinse well with warm water. You may have to repeat this process several times in order for the smell to go away completely.

5. Experiment with Limonene

If you have tried the above methods and your nail still has a smell, try this:

Using a cotton ball, apply a small amount of lemon juice or lemon essential oil to the affected nail. Let it sit for a few minutes. Wash it off with warm water and dry thoroughly before repeating as needed.

6. Try Baking Soda Paste

Baking soda is a great way to clean off the smell of your nails. Mix two tablespoons of baking soda with two tablespoons of water and apply it to your fingernails. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then rinse off with warm water.

Baking soda can also help get rid of other stubborn smells, like the stink that comes from onions on your hands after chopping them up for dinner.

7. Use Oil to Cleanse Your Fingernails

If you have an oily complexion and find that dirt and bacteria accumulate under your nails easily, oil is one of the best things you can use to cleanse them. Simply apply a little olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil to a cotton ball and wipe it over your fingernails before rinsing off any excess with warm water.

8. Cut your nails

If you’re having a problem with your nails smelling, the first thing you should do is cut them. This will help to prevent any bacteria from collecting under the nail and spreading to other parts of your body. You can trim them with a nail clipper or scissors, then use a file to smooth out any rough edges. Don’t cut too far down on your finger, however; if you do this and accidentally cut into the skin underneath your fingernail, it could get infected.

9. Wash your hands with vinegar and lemon juice

To get rid of smells under your nails, try this simple DIY trick:

Vinegar and lemon juice are natural antibacterial agents. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture directly to the area where the smell is coming from. Washing your hands for at least 30 seconds will remove any dirt or bacteria that could be causing the odor, but repeat this process until your nails are clean.

Make sure you keep adding more vinegar/lemon juice if necessary so you can soak them for longer periods of time without having to reapply.

10. Apply apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball

To get rid of the smell under your nails, apply apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball. The acidity in ACV will neutralize any funk that’s clinging around in your nails and hands.

Apply the vinegar to your nails and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing off with warm water. To make sure you’re getting all of the residues off, use a nail brush after rinsing, this will help remove any dead skin cells or germs that still might be lingering. Finally, dry yourself off with a towel.

11. Apply hand sanitizer more often

Hand sanitizer is a great product that can kill germs on your hands. However, it is not a substitute for soap and water (or regular hand cleaning), as it does not remove dirt or oil from the skin.

When you’re out in public places, like restaurants and shopping malls, make sure to carry around some hand sanitizer so you can clean your hands before eating or touching surfaces that may have bacteria on them. This will help keep you from getting sick.

12. Ingest foods that contain garlic and onion

As you probably know, garlic and onion are known for having antibacterial properties. They can help kill bacteria that cause bad smells under the nail. You can eat them raw or cooked, but if you choose to cook them, be careful not to burn them as this will destroy their antibacterial properties.

Garlic and onion oil are other natural remedies that may work for you.

Does Keeping Long Nails Make Them Smell?

Yes, keeping long nails can make them smell, but only if you have a fungal infection. The nail bed is part of the skin and can get infected. Fungi like to grow in warm, moist environments, so if you keep your nails long and don’t trim them regularly or wash your hands regularly after using public bathrooms, it increases your risk of getting a fungal infection.

If you do have a fungal infection under some or all of your nails, then it’s even more important that you keep them short so that there’s not more surface area for bacteria to attach themselves to.

What Happens if You Don’t Treat Smelly Nails?

If you don’t treat smelly nails, your problem can get worse over time. The smell will become stronger and more embarrassing as it spreads to other parts of your hand. Not only that, but it may also be a sign of poor hygiene or even serious medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

If you’re worried about the smell under your nails and don’t know what is causing it, see a doctor right away so they can examine your skin and nail beds carefully (or even do blood tests) in order to determine whether there’s a cause for concern.


If you are tired of smelling your hands, it’s time to take action. Smelly nails can be caused by a number of factors, including poor hygiene and lack of circulation in your hands. If you’re experiencing this problem, try some of these tips. First, wash your hands regularly with soap and water.

Secondly, use alcohol or other antibacterial agents to clean under your nails this will help kill off any germs that may be causing the smell. Finally, try using oils like lemon juice or olive oil as a moisturizer for dry skin around the nails too.

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