Why Do My Acrylic Nails Hurt?
Published Oct 10, 2021
Acrylic nails are the go-to solutions for people with damaged, broken, or unsightly natural nails. Aside from providing the perfect canvas for nail art, it’s also a slightly cheaper and more durable alternative to dip powder nails. But even if it’s generally considered safe, it can still cause discomfort. In fact, many first-timers often find themselves asking, why do my acrylic nails hurt?
Common Reasons Why Acrylic Nails Hurt
If it’s your first time getting acrylic nails, know that it’s normal for acrylic nails to hurt especially during the first day. But it’s usually more of a discomfort rather than a throbbing kind of pain. Like most nail treatments, there can be a variety of factors for the discomfort. Here are the most common ones:
1. Your Nail Technician Isn’t Skilled Enough
If the acrylic nail installation isn’t done right, it tends to hurt. Obviously, this relies on the skills of your nail technician.
Some nail technicians file the nail down almost to the base. This can heighten your nail’s sensitivity, sometimes to the point of pain. Some also tend to apply too much acrylic. Thick acrylics tend to hurt, particularly if it’s your first time having it.
There are also times when the nail technician is in a hurry to finish the job that they tend to treat your nails harshly. Aside from exerting too much pressure on the nail drill, they also tend to push and pluck your cuticles a little too hard. This causes nail injuries and the skin around your nails to become more sensitive or even bleed.
2. You’re Not Used to Acrylic Nails
Acrylic nails can take getting used to. So if this is your first time getting one, it may feel uncomfortable. But once you get used to it, you won’t even feel a thing. It would just be like an extension of your natural nails.
3. You’re Allergic to Glue
Some nail glues contain additives that may cause rashes or even severe inflammation upon prolonged contact with skin. Since your nails are filed down, and your cuticles are plucked before the acrylic nails are installed, allergies and inflammations tend to be more painful. So if you have a known allergy to glue or any sort of additives, better talk to your nail technician about it.
4. Your Nails Are Thin or Sensitive
Some people are born with naturally thin nails. They tend to be more sensitive to treatments like acrylic glue. Besides, acrylic nails can be heavy. So if you have naturally thin nails, the pressure of having one can be too much at times.
5. Some Nail Shapes Are More Prone to Pain
Long, pointed nails are more prone to bumping and other accidents than other nail shapes. Because it’s attached to your nail bed, bumping your fake nails can cause pain and may even dislodge it.
6. You Have a Nail Infection
As mentioned, your nail technician will have to file down your nail and trim down the cuticles to install the fake nail. Now, remember that your cuticle is there to protect the new nails from bacteria as it grows out of the nail root. Thus, cutting it down makes your nails more prone to infections. Add to that the drying effect of nail glues and acrylic adhesives, and you get the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. This is why getting acrylic nails can often lead to nail infections, especially if your nail technician has poor skills.
Regluing your acrylic nails also increases the risk of fungal nail infection. When the nail adhesive loosens, it creates a gap between your nail bed and the acrylic nail. Moisture can get trapped in these gaps together with bacteria and fungus causing nail infections.
How To Prevent or Stop Acrylic Nails From Hurting
Whether you’ve already got acrylic nails or are about to get one, here are some tips on how to prevent or stop them from hurting:
1. Do Not Do Your Own Acrylic Nails At Home If You’re Not Skilled At It
With many fake nail kits you can buy at a very low price online, the temptation to do it yourself can be hard to resist. But if you’ve only just watched a few Youtube videos and are not trained to do it, don’t risk it. Otherwise, you may end up like these people. Or, if you’re really unlucky, you may need a trip to the emergency room.
2. Choose Your Nail Technician Carefully
We cannot emphasize this enough. As mentioned above, getting acrylic nails can hurt if your nail technician isn’t skilled enough. Don’t just choose a nail technician because they can save you a few dollars. Most of the time, quality service doesn’t come cheap. Choose someone with proven skills and experience. Ask around your neighborhood or look for reviews online. They’ll give you an idea of who you’d want to trust your nails with.
3. Choose a Less Pointy Nail Shape
As we’ve mentioned, pointy nails tend to be more prone to accidents, especially if you’re not yet used to it. So if this is your first time, opt for a less pointy nail shape.
4. Do a Patch Test on the Glue First
Many people don’t know they’re allergic to glue until after it’s been on their skin for a few hours. By then, the glue has hardened, and taking it off can take another couple of hours. To be on the safer side, ask your nail technician to do a patch test of the glue first.
5. Put Your Finger in Ice Cold Water
If you’re feeling beyond the usual discomfort and it develops into a burning sensation, the first aid would be to soak your fingers in ice-cold water. If the pain doesn’t subside, ask your nail technician for advice or call your doctor.
6. Take Pain Medications If Necessary
If soaking in ice-cold water won’t cut it, you may need to take pain medications. But this is usually for extreme cases and should be done only as a last resort.
7. Take Off Your Acrylic Nails
If the pain persists and no amount of medication or first-aid treatment helps, it’s better to take off your acrylic nails. You can ask your nail technician to remove it for you. But if your nail technician isn’t immediately available, you can also take off your acrylic nails yourself.
There are two ways to remove your nails at home: With or without acetone. To remove your nails using acetone, just gently buff your fake nail until the shine is completely gone. Then soak it in pure acetone until the adhesives loosen up and the acrylic nails are easier to push off from your nail bed.
If you don’t care for damaged nails, you can also remove your fake nails without acetone. Try soaking it in less harsh chemicals like isopropyl alcohol or ethyl acetate. Or if your stint with the acrylic nails has made you totally swore off chemicals, warm water or cuticle oil will do too.
8. Consider Other Nail Manicure Options
Most of the time, it’s unavoidable to feel pain when your acrylic nails are being installed. I mean, the nail technician will have to file your nail and trim your cuticles. That in itself will cause some amount of discomfort. If you feel like this isn’t really for you, consider other ways of getting your nails done. You can try dip powder, gel, shellac, or paraffin. There’s a whole lot of different nail polish options to choose from, and one of them might be more suitable for you.
How Long Will The Pain Last?
Acrylic nails typically hurt on the first day, but the pain usually goes away the day after. However, if it’s not getting better and you still feel pain and discomfort after a few days, you should call your nail technician or consult your doctor.
(Related: 21 Best Pregnancy Safe Nail Polish This 2022)
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is the lead writer for the Salon Suites of Palm Beach website and blog. Her many years of blogging experience and passions for beauty trends helps her create content that has helped millions of people worldwide.