Why Do Nails Smell Bad After Removing Fake Nails?

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Properly taking care of your fake nails helps make sure that they last. Although some of you may want to have them forever, there will still come a time that you have to remove them (if you’re careful, you can reuse them).

When that time comes, take note of how your nail smells. If it smells bad, that may indicate a problem. 

So why do nails smell bad after removing fake nails? And what does it mean if they stink?

Your nails probably smell bad because you have a fungal infection due to wearing fake nails. It’s not uncommon. An infection sounds dangerous, and it is!

But that doesn’t mean you should completely abandon the use of fake nails.

Below, we will discuss how you could get an infection due to your fake nails as well as how to avoid them. 


Why Do Nails Smell Bad After Removing Fake Nails?

You may or may not have been feeling a bit of pain or discomfort from wearing your fake nails. But when you finally remove them, you smell a bad odor.

This simply means that the nail has been a breeding ground for bacteria or fungi. 


A thriving microorganism colony could produce the bad-smelling gases that you only notice once you remove the fake nails. Sometimes, even if you haven’t removed the fake nails, you’ll be able to smell the bad odor when your nails are near your nose.

That’s just gross!

Even if you think you’ve been keeping them clean and sanitary, bacteria and fungi can still get into your nails — bacteria are everywhere.

However, microorganisms won’t thrive in between your fake nails and natural nails if there is no gap between them. Furthermore, a gap could also collect moisture that the fungi and bacteria need to survive. 

How Do The Bacteria And Fungi Get Into The Nails

As we’ve said, bacteria and fungi are everywhere, but they won’t multiply unless you give them what you need. Unfortunately, they could survive and even thrive in between your fake nails and natural nail.

They can get access to those areas due to the following:

Unsanitary Fake Nail Application

Nail Tool Disenfectant

Fake nails may look great but they also come with risks — especially if you are not careful about using them, or if the nail technician you go to is unsanitary. If you are doing your own nails, you have to remember to disinfect all your tools .

This prevents you from developing an infection once you use them on your nails. 

Even if you are the only one who is using your nail kit , that doesn’t give you an excuse to be sloppy or unsanitary. Bacteria and fungus are everywhere and you can’t see them with your bare eyes.

Even if your kit looks clean, it can still be harboring lots of potential microorganisms that could cause an infection. When you use them, you also introduce any bacteria and fungi present on them to your nails.

They eventually get trapped between your fake nail and your natural nail. 

Furthermore, your nail technician could also be the culprit. Sanitizing tools should be done for every client. If not, then they’ll just be spreading the infection. Make sure the tools used on your hands are sanitized.

If you are using acrylic nails, make sure that the solutions and acrylic powders are not contaminated. 

Fake Nails Lifting

It may seem that your fake nails are tightly attached to your natural nails. However, that may not be the case. Sometimes, depending on how the fake nails are attached, your activities, or how long you’ve had them, gaps between the fake nail and natural nail could form.

This is commonly referred to as lifting

When that happens, bacteria and fungi can get into the gap that has been created, and thrive there. Your fingernails are warm and many bacteria and fungi love that warmth.

The gap can also trap moisture, which they also need to survive. If you’ve been swimming, washing dishes, or taking long showers and washing your hair, this can occur.

The only thing that they need is food, which could be your nails or fake nails. 

In some cases, this can cause the fake nail to pop off completely.

How To Avoid Nail Infection

A nail infection doesn’t only smell bad, it can also be painful. The infected nail can be reddish, swelling, or even have pus. That infection can pose a threat to your overall health so don’t wait until it’s too late.

Here are a few things you should do to avoid nail infection. 

Sanitary And Proper Application Of Fake Nails

To avoid infection, you have to make sure all the tools used are clean. Proper application of the fake nail should also be done. If the fake nail is not positioned properly, that could cause the gap where the bacteria or fungi could develop.

Use actual

Super Strong Nail Glue For Nail Tips, Acrylic Nails and Press On Nails (8ml) NYK1 Nail Bond Brush On Nail Glue For Press On Nails Long Lasting Nail Glue For Acrylic Nails Fake Nails Tips Nail Glue Gel
  • ★ SUPER STRONG - Salon Professional...
  • ★ QUICK DRY - Water Resistant, Super...
  • ★ BRUSH ON - Built-In Fine Precision...
  • ★ EXTRA FILL - Brush On Nail Glue...
  • ★ PERFECT FOR - Nail Glue For Press On...
and not a random household glue like Elmers or Krazy Glue.

The best thing to do is avoid letting the microorganisms thrive from the start. 

Immediately Repair Broken Or Cracked Nails

If your fake nail has a crack, is broken, or feels loose, it is best to immediately repair them. Sometimes, the repair is as easy as using some nail glue.

However, before you do that, make sure to sanitize the nail properly. You want to ensure that any bacteria or fungi that are already in the crack would be killed before it is repaired. 

Immediate Treatment Of Infected Nail

A nail that is starting to be infected can be saved if you immediately treat it. You won’t usually be required to go to a doctor for treatment unless the infection is already severe or out of control.

To treat or remove the fungus and bacteria, you can use essential oils, vinegar, or even mouthwash.

If the infection still appears to be present after the treatment, it’s time to seek out a professional. Go to a clinic so that the medical provider can prescribe some medication and properly treat the nail. 

Final Thoughts

When your acrylic nails smell bad, take it as a sign that your nail has been infected. There are bacteria or fungi that have been living in between your fake nail and natural nail.

The infection can happen due to the unsanitary use of nail tools, improper application of the fake nail, as well as the lifting of the fake nail. 

The infection can usually be treated at home (the toes are more difficult to deal with). However, if it is already bad, you might already need prescription medicine.

It is best to avoid infection rather than treat it, so always take precautions when using fake nails.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).