If you’ve been smoking for a while, you may notice some discoloration on your fingertips. Usually these are an unsightly yellow color and could easily be confused with jaundice.
The good news is – it’s not jaundice! It’s staining from the chemicals in your cigarettes.
A common misconception is that the stains are the result of the nicotine in your cigarettes, but this isn’t the case. This article will teach you how to remove them safely and go back to the normal pigmentation in your fingers.
There may be affiliate links in this article. You can read more about this in my disclosure.
Tobacco Stains Explained
When a cigarette is lit, the combustion naturally releases smoke, and the smoke from cigarettes contains thousands of chemicals made up of the numerous ingredients that go into the average cigarette.
Despite the fact smoke naturally rises and remains airborne, some of the chemicals from tobacco products settle and cling to surfaces that they come into contact with – including our fingers.
Over a prolonged period of time, a regular smoker will notice that the pores of his/her skin around the fingers will change to an unflattering yellowish color.
This is because the pores are penetrated on a regular basis by harsh chemicals, and they become ingrained with the residues of the cigarettes.
As it is a gradual, close-contact situation, these stains don’t remove during hand-washing, and can be difficult to fully eradicate.
How to Remove Cigarette Stains From Skin
There are several ways you can safely remove yellowy stains caused by cigarettes from your skin.
One method you can try with products you will likely find in your kitchen is a home scrub solution. For these methods you will need the following:
- A nail file/pumice stone/exfoliating scrub/toothbrush
- Bleach or hydrogen peroxide
- Lemon juice
- A potato (yes, really…)
*Please note: this method is only advisable if your skin is clear and healthy. If you have sensitive skin, or any skin disorder, such as Psoriasis or eczema, seek advice from a medical practitioner.
Do not perform these methods on an open wound or otherwise broken or irritated skin.
- Exfoliate your skin. You can do this by dampening your skin by soaking your fingers in warm water for a few minutes, but not long enough for the skin to prune.
- Using your nail file/pumice stone/scrub/toothbrush, gently sand the stained areas on your fingers. Gently apply pressure to the yellowed area of your fingers, just until the stain looks faded.
- Do not rub your finger for more than a few seconds, as it can cause irritation. Stop rubbing the area if it becomes red or irritated.
- Apply a gentle, DILUTED bleach solution. DO NOT PUT PURE BLEACH OR PEROXIDE ON YOUR SKIN. Mix one part bleach with four parts of warm water for this solution into a bowl.
- Dip a nail file or toothbrush into the solution and apply it to the yellowed area of your fingers. Leave it on your fingers for a few minutes and then thoroughly rinse it off.
- If this isn’t enough to get rid of the stains, then you can also soak your fingers in the solution for five minute intervals a day until you notice the colouring begin to fade. Do not leave the solution on for any longer than five minutes at a time.
- After you rinse your hands, apply some hand cream or moisturizer to keep your skin protected from the dryness water and bleach can cause. You may want to wear a mask when doing this method to protect your lungs.
- If you use this method and it irritates your skin, then rinse the bleach off of your skin immediately.
- Scrub your fingers with toothpaste. As toothpaste is designed to remove stains, it can also help to remove nicotine stains from your fingers.
- Squeeze a dollop of whitening toothpaste onto the yellow area of your skin. Then using a toothbrush, scrub the toothpaste into the yellow skin for a few minutes and rinse the area with warm water.
- Apply lemon juice. Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent that may help to remove stains from your fingers.
- Cut a fresh lemon in half and take half of the lemon and rub the stained areas with the lemon half until it’s saturated.
- Leave the lemon coating on your fingers for 5-10 minutes and then rinse it with warm water.
- You can repeat this process several times a day until you notice an improvement.
- Keep in mind that this method will be unpleasant if you have any small cuts on your fingertips. If you notice the juice causes any irritation to your skin, wash it off with warm water and do not repeat this process.
- Rub your fingertips with a potato – yes, really! Peel a regular potato and then use it to rub the stained area of your fingers. Rinse off the potato juice after a few minutes.
- You can repeat this process throughout the day until you see an improvement.
- Dissolve an aspirin in water. Take a single aspirin tablet and dissolve it in an 8 oz. cup of hot water.
- Allow the water to cool slightly, then dip the stained fingers into the water and soak them for several minutes. Wash your hands with soap and water when you have finished.
- You can also add a few drops of water to a single aspirin tablet to form a paste, which you can use to scrub your nails, if they are also affected by cigarette stains.
- Use a nail brush to apply the paste to the yellow areas of your skin and let it sit for up to fifteen minutes, scrub, then rinse away the paste and wash your hands thoroughly.
These methods can be effective when trying to remove yellow cigarette stains from the skin on your fingers, but you may not find them to be successful if your fingernails are also affected.
Removing cigarette stains from your fingernails
In order to remove cigarette stains from your fingernails, you can try these methods:
What You’ll Need:
- Hydrogen peroxide has whitening properties that can remove nicotine stains from your fingernails. To do this, pour 3-4 tablespoons (15 ml per tablespoon) of 3% hydrogen peroxide into half a cup (118.5 ml) of water and stir well.
- Dip your nails into the solution and soak them for up to 15 minutes. Use a nailbrush or old toothbrush to scrub the staining on your nails and then rinse your hands with soap and warm water.
- You can safely use hydrogen peroxide on your nails once a week for up to three months.
- Keep in mind that this method will sting if you have any small cuts on your fingers. Do not continue the process if the peroxide aggravates your skin.
- Apply hand or nail cream after each session to keep your nails strong and healthy.
- Apply apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic and malic acids that can reduce discoloration in nails.
- Pour half a cup (118.5 ml) of lukewarm water into a dish with half a cup of apple cider vinegar. Soak your affected nails for up to twenty minutes.
- Wash and dry your nails afterwards.
- You can repeat this process three times a day for up to a month.
- Soaking your nails in apple cider vinegar will sting if you have an open wound. Discontinue if you notice a reaction on your skin.
- Soak your nails in mouthwash. Alcohol-based mouthwash, such as Listerine, can also help remove stains on your fingernails.
- Pour some mouthwash into a clean plastic cup and soak your nails for up to 30 minutes a day.
- You can repeat this process once a day.
- Rub your nails with orange peels. This may sound bonkers but orange peels are high in vitamin C, which help maintain healthy nails – and they can help to get rid of yellow stains as well.
- Peel an orange and rub the inside of the peels along your nails for 5 to 10 minutes per day/session.
- This may be a more reliable solution if your skin is sensitive to synthetic chemicals found in the products used in the above methods. This option will also smell much more pleasant!
How to Prevent Nicotine Stains
- Use a roach clip every time you smoke
- Use a vape
- If you are addicted to nicotine, consider patches or gum
- Thoroughly wash hands after every cigarette
- Quit smoking. This will benefit you more than any of the other methods!
What’s in Cigarette Smoke?
Unfortunately, cigarettes include more than just ground tobacco leaves. Some of which cause the smoke to contain the following:
- Tar. This is a sticky brown substance and one of the key culprits for causing staining. It is also one of the products that contribute towards smoking-related cancers and various lung diseases.
- Carbon Monoxide. Another killer substance. Carbon monoxide stops your blood from carrying as much oxygen. This means your heart must work harder, and your organs don’t get the amount of oxygen they need. This increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. It is also toxic to those around you.
- Nicotine. Nicotine is the part of cigarettes that makes them very addictive. Nicotine is a drug.
What’s in Cigarettes?
According to Cancer Research UK, some of the ingredients that go into cigarettes include:
- 1,3-Butadiene is used in rubber manufacturing
- Arsenic is a poison
- Benzene is an industrial solvent, refined from crude oil
- Beryllium is used in nuclear reactors
- Cadmium is used in batteries
- Chromium is used to manufacture dye, paints, and alloys
- Formaldehyde is used as a preservative in science laboratories and mortuaries
- Polonium-21 is a highly radioactive element
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a group of dangerous DNA-damaging chemicals, including benzo(a)pyrene
Why are Cigarettes Bad for Us?
Most of us are aware of the detrimental health effects that cigarettes can cause us. This is because when we smoke we are poisoning our system with toxic chemicals that our bodies aren’t designed to expel, regulate, or consume.
Over a period of time, these chemicals cause considerable damage, particularly to our respiratory system.
Some of the health problems you may encounter if you are a smoker include:
- Various cancers
- Heart disease
- Lung diseases
- Diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
- Smoking also increases risk for tuberculosis, certain eye diseases, and problems of the immune system, including rheumatoid arthritis.
Smoking is also unsafe for those around us – even if they aren’t smokers themselves. Second-hand smoke exposure contributes to approximately 41,000 deaths among non-smoking adults and 400 deaths in infants each year.
Second-hand smoke causes stroke, lung cancer, and coronary heart disease in adults.
Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, more severe asthma, respiratory symptoms, and slowed lung growth.
So, we have learned that the yellow stains that appear on the finger areas of regular smokers are caused by the numerous toxins in cigarette smoke, such as tar and carbon monoxide.
There are several home remedies to remove these stains, but it is always best to speak to a health practitioner first, particularly if you have sensitive skin or any skin conditions.
Cigarette stains are notoriously stubborn, so it is likely you’ll need to be persistent and patient when trying to remove them.
Smoking can cause many detrimental health conditions, some of which can be fatal. Nicotine is also a heavily addictive drug, and one that is very hard to shift once it takes.
The best cure is always prevention, so if you need help quitting smoking, you can find it here.
As a busy mom, Raz knows firsthand the challenges of balancing parenting and household management. Raz is constantly searching for ways to simplify her life and loves sharing her experiences and tips with others. Whether it's finding creative meal solutions for picky eaters or discovering the latest time-saving home organization hack, she is always on the lookout for ways to make life easier for her family and herself.
Last update on 2023-01-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API