Why Are my Baby Fingernails Dirty? | Amy Baby Review

Last Updated on March 14, 2023

As a parent, one of the first things you notice about your baby is their tiny little hands and fingernails. It’s easy to get mesmerized by how perfect they look – until you realize that their nails may be covered in dirt or grime! So, you must have this question: Why are my baby fingernails so dirty?

In this blog post, we will answer this question, provide you with helpful tips to keep your baby’s fingernails clean and germ-free and help you take the appropriate action if your baby’s fingernails become overly dirty.

Why Are my Baby Fingernails Dirty?

Why are my baby fingernails dirty?

Babies tend to put everything in their mouths and touch things around them as they explore, so it is not uncommon for their fingernails to be dirty. 

Additionally, if your baby is eating solid foods, the remnants of food can get stuck under their nails. Plus, they touch their faces- transferring sweat, saliva, and skin cells (along with any creams or oils) underneath them. Besides, fluff from clothes, blankets, etc., gets stuck under the nails.

If you find that your baby’s fingernails are excessively dirty or there is residue from diapers on them, then it may be necessary to clean them thoroughly with warm water and soap

You should keep your baby’s nails trimmed regularly; this will help prevent any dirt or bacteria from becoming trapped underneath the nail. 

Additionally, keeping your home clean and free of dust and dirt can also reduce the chances of your baby’s fingernails becoming dirty. 

Finally, washing your baby’s hands regularly (especially after they have been playing outdoors or handling pets) can help reduce germs and bacteria on their fingers. 

Overall, it is normal for your baby’s fingernails to be dirty from time to time as they explore their environment.  

Also read: How to teach toddler girl to wipe after peeing

How do you get dirt from under your child’s nails?

Handwashing is an important part of proper nail bed hygiene, but it doesn’t always do the trick. To make sure your baby’s nails are truly clean, you can do these-

  • Take five extra seconds to scrub underneath the tips using a soft brush.
  • This will help remove dirt, debris, and germs that can build up and cause illness.

Making this a part of your handwashing routine every time can help keep you healthy and protect you from potential ailments.

Is dirt under nails normal?

Yes, as mentioned above, the dirt under your baby’s nails is totally normal. That discoloration is common and nothing to feel ashamed of. 

Having dirt under nails shouldn’t be a source of stress–just make sure you diligently wash your baby’s hands and keep their nails clipped to prevent long nails from trapping dirt.

Here are some more tips to keep your baby’s fingernails clean: 

• Make sure your baby wears mittens whenever they go outside. This will help protect their nails from dirt, mud and other debris. 

• Keep a small nail brush handy for cleaning underneath the tips of their nails. 

• Apply hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before meals to kill any bacteria that may be on their hands. 

• When bathing your baby, make sure to give special attention to washing their nails and scrubbing underneath the tips with a nail brush or soft cloth.

By following these tips, you can help keep your baby’s fingernails clean and germ-free!  

Also read: How to teach baby to stand up without support

What are the black things under nails?

The black lines under your baby’s nails are mostly dirt. It could be a combination of dirt, bacteria, and oil from the skin. This is very common and nothing to worry about.

You can easily clean it by washing your baby’s hands regularly and scrubbing underneath the tips with a nail brush or soft cloth.

“It’s important to maintain proper hygiene and keep your baby’s nails trimmed regularly so that dirt and bacteria don’t become trapped underneath the nail.” says Dr. Steph Lee, a board-certified pediatrician.

So make sure to take extra care of your baby’s nails to keep them clean and healthy. By doing this, you can help prevent any illnesses and make sure your baby’s nails stay germ-free!  

Can fingernails show signs of illness?

Yes, fingernails can be an indicator of certain illnesses. If your baby’s nails have become discolored, brittle or have ridges or lines running down them, this could be a sign of an underlying health condition.

Research has shown that a lack of vitamin B12 can cause nails to be discolored in shades of brown or gray. Anemia could potentially manifest itself as white nails, and pink or red ones might point towards various nutrient and vitamin deficiencies due to malnutrition.

Moreover, biotin deficiency heightens the probability of fungal nail infections, which may alter nail coloration.

“If you notice these kinds of changes in your baby’s nails, it’s best to seek medical advice for a proper diagnosis and treatment.”, adds Dr. Lee.

What do healthy nails look like?

What do healthy nails look like

Having healthy fingernails is essential and should be cultivated. Here’s how they appear:

  • Smooth
  • Uniform in color
  • Uniform in texture
  • Free of any grooves
  • Free of discolorations

Note: if you see vertical ridges running from your cuticle to the tip of your nail, don’t worry! This is quite common and usually harmless.

How do unhealthy nails look like?

How do unhealthy nails look like

Unhealthy nails have several tell-tale signs that indicate poor health or a potential medical condition. They may look like this-

  • Unsightly dark white streaks
  • White streaks
  • Nail color changes
  • Shape changes such as curving or clubbing increased thickness or fragility.

These are all signs that you should pay attention to and not ignore, as they may be indicative of a discoloration that you should take seriously.

Nail care for babies

Nail care for babies is important as it helps keep their nails clean and healthy. Newborns can’t help but move around, often with their hands and feet in the line of fire. 

Soft and flexible nails are most common for newborn babies, yet if they grow too long or have jagged edges, it is not only painful for your little one but also poses a risk to them and the people surrounding them. 

It’s essential that you keep an eye on those tiny fingernails and trim them regularly. This will help avoid any unwanted scratches or clawing at the baby’s face!

  • To keep your baby clean and safe, incorporate nail care, and wash them with warm water as part of their regular baths.
  • To do this, use either a nail file or nail clipping to shorten and smooth the nails – never try adult-sized clippers!
  • Alternatively, you can trim them with baby nail brushes that have blunt rounded tips or specialized baby nail clippers.
  • As babies’ nails grow quickly, you should trim their nails regularly. Trim their finger nails each week and toe nails every two weeks. It’s best to do it after they’ve been sleeping or while they’re taking a bath, when they are relaxed and calm.

Note: Remember to wash your baby’s nails with warm water, not hot water!


Do nails show vitamin deficiency?

Yes, If you have dry, brittle and cracked dirty nails that are shaped abnormally, it may be a sign of vitamin or mineral deficiency.

What signs of poor nutrition could be observed in nails?

Much like hair, nails can be a telltale sign of nutritional deficiencies. Look closely at the shape of your baby’s nails – if they curve up from the nail bed in a spoon-like fashion (known as koilonychia), then they may have iron-deficiency anemia.

Wrapping Up

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post. We hope that you now have a better understanding of why your baby’s fingernails are so dirty and how to keep them clean and germ-free. 

If you ever have any other questions about your baby’s health or well-being, please contact our team for further advice. We wish you all the best in keeping your little one safe and healthy!

Please share this post with friends and family who may benefit from it. Thanks for reading once again!  Stay safe and healthy!

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Amy A. Vincent

Amy A. Vincent, a mother of three amazing children, has been sharing practical parenting insights and advice for the past four years and counting on her blog. With contributions from real healthcare professionals, she provides guidance on topics ranging from baby products to best practices in raising your children with confidence. Whether you’re interested in learning how to take care of them or making informed decisions about their well-being, this site offers comprehensive parental support that can help you raise happy and healthy kids! Read more

Dr. Leah Alexander

Dr. Leah Alexander is a board-certified general pediatrician and has been practicing pediatrics at Elizabeth Pediatric Group of New Jersey since 2000. Since 2005, she has been working as an independently contracted pediatrician with Medical Doctors Associates at Pediatricare Associates of New Jersey. She also enjoys cooking outside of the medical profession. Read more

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