Why Do Acrylic Nails Hurt?

by  Mila M.Cosmetologist

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Are your acrylic nails giving you a hard time? It’s not uncommon for these fashionable additions to cause some discomfort and even pain. This article will delve into why this happens, the factors involved, and how you can address it.

Ready set go! Let’s ease your nail woes today.

  • Acrylic nails can hurt due to factors such as the skill level of the nail technician, allergic reactions to glue, thin or sensitive nails, and improper nail shaping.
  • To prevent acrylic nails from hurting, choose an experienced nail technician, opt for a less pointy nail shape, do a patch test on the glue, soak fingers in ice water for relief, and consider pain medication if needed.
  • If you’re experiencing significant discomfort or pain from acrylic nails, you may need to remove them or explore alternative manicure options like gel nails or dip powder nails.

Common Reasons Why Acrylic Nails Hurt

There are several common reasons why acrylic nails can cause discomfort and pain.

Nail technician skill level

Mastering the craft of acrylic nail application takes time and practice. A less experienced technician may cause discomfort or pain during the process. They might employ force when pushing back cuticles, incorrectly apply glue resulting in bubbles under your nails, or even file nails too thin – all leading to why acrylic nails can hurt.

Choosing a seasoned nail professional ensures skillful placement of artificial tips and proper application of glue. This reduces chances of irritation or tenderness caused by anomalies like improperly filed nails or excessive tightening due to large amounts of adhesive used.

In short, skill level plays a major role in determining whether you’ll experience aching after your salon visit.

Allergic reaction to glue

If you experience discomfort and pain after getting acrylic nails, one possible reason could be an allergic reaction to the glue used. Some nail glues contain additives that can cause rashes or severe inflammation when in prolonged contact with the skin.

This can result in your acrylic nails hurting and feeling uncomfortable. It’s important to be aware of any potential allergies you may have before getting acrylic nails applied, as this can help prevent any unpleasant reactions.

Thin or sensitive nails

Thin or sensitive nails can contribute to the discomfort and pain experienced with acrylic nails. The lower density of these nails means that the pulling effect from the acrylics can be particularly uncomfortable, almost feeling like it is tugging on the skin.

Additionally, thin or sensitive nails may not provide as much cushioning between the natural nail bed and the artificial tips, resulting in heightened sensitivity and irritation. It’s important to consider your nail type when getting acrylics to ensure a more comfortable experience.

Nail shape

Choosing the right nail shape is a crucial factor in preventing acrylic nails from hurting. Opting for a less pointy shape, such as square or round, can significantly reduce discomfort and pain.

Pointy nail shapes can put more pressure on the nail bed and surrounding skin, causing soreness and sensitivity. By selecting a gentler nail shape, you can help alleviate any potential discomfort that may arise from wearing acrylic nails.

Nail infection

Nail infection is a potential cause of discomfort and pain when wearing acrylic nails. Bacterial or fungal infections can occur if the nail bed is exposed or if the acrylics are not properly applied.

Symptoms of a nail infection may include swelling, tenderness, redness, and pus around the nail. If you suspect an infection, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention to prevent further complications.

Proper hygiene and maintaining healthy nails can help reduce the risk of developing an infection while wearing acrylic nails.

How To Prevent Acrylic Nails From Hurting

To prevent acrylic nails from hurting, choose an experienced nail technician, opt for a less pointy nail shape, do a patch test on the glue, soak your fingers in ice water, and consider pain medication if needed.

Choose an experienced nail technician

Selecting an experienced nail technician is crucial in preventing discomfort and pain from acrylic nails. A skilled professional will have the expertise to ensure that the application process is done correctly, minimizing the risk of any unnecessary pain or problems.

They will know how to properly prep your nails, apply the acrylics evenly, and file them to the appropriate thickness. By choosing a knowledgeable nail technician, you can trust that they will prioritize your comfort and deliver beautiful results without causing any unnecessary pain or discomfort.

Opt for a less pointy nail shape

Choosing a less pointy nail shape can help prevent discomfort and pain from acrylic nails. Pointy nails put more pressure on the nail bed, which can cause soreness and sensitivity.

By opting for a round or square shape, you distribute the pressure more evenly, reducing the likelihood of pain. So when getting your acrylic nails done, consider discussing with your technician about choosing a nail shape that is more comfortable and less likely to cause discomfort in the long run.

Do a patch test on the glue

To avoid discomfort and potential allergic reactions, it is advisable to do a patch test on the glue before getting acrylic nails. This simple step can help you determine if you have any sensitivity or reaction to the glue.

Apply a small amount of glue on your skin, preferably behind your ear or on your inner arm, and wait for at least 24 hours. If you experience any redness, itching, or swelling in that area, it is best to avoid using that particular glue for your acrylic nails.

Taking this precautionary measure can save you from unnecessary pain and ensure a more pleasant nail experience.

Soak fingers in ice water

To help alleviate the discomfort and pain from acrylic nails, one simple technique you can try is soaking your fingers in ice water. This can provide immediate relief by numbing the area and reducing swelling or inflammation.

Fill a bowl with cold water and add some ice cubes to it. Then, immerse your fingertips into the icy water for about 10-15 minutes. The cold temperature will help soothe any soreness or tenderness caused by acrylic nails, making you feel more comfortable and at ease.

Consider pain medication if needed

If you’re experiencing discomfort or pain from your acrylic nails, it may be worth considering pain medication to help alleviate the symptoms. While it’s important to address the underlying cause of the pain, taking over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief while you seek a long-term solution.

Keep in mind that this should not be a permanent fix and it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

Potential Solutions for Painful Acrylic Nails

To address the discomfort of acrylic nails, consider removing them or exploring alternative nail manicure options.

Remove the acrylic nails

If you’re experiencing discomfort and pain from your acrylic nails, one potential solution is to remove them. This can help relieve any soreness, tenderness, or swelling that you might be feeling.

By removing the acrylic nails, you are allowing your natural nails to breathe and heal properly. It’s important to consult with a professional nail technician or follow proper removal techniques at home to avoid causing further damage to your nails.

Remember that removing the acrylics should only be done if you’re experiencing significant discomfort or pain, as some initial discomfort is normal when wearing acrylic nails.

Try alternative nail manicure options

Consider exploring alternative nail manicure options if you find that acrylic nails are causing discomfort or pain. There are other types of manicures available that can provide a beautiful look without the burden of nail soreness.

One option to try is gel nails, which are applied using a special gel polish and UV light for curing. Gel nails tend to be thinner than acrylics and may feel more natural on your nails.

Another option is dip powder nails, where colored powder is applied to the nails using a base coat and an activator. This type of manicure can last longer than traditional polish and provides a strong, durable finish.

Can Using Alternatives to Monomer Cause Acrylic Nails to Hurt?

Yes, using alternatives to monomer in acrylic nails can cause discomfort and pain. The absence of monomer can lead to improper adhesion and weak bonding, resulting in nail lifting and irritation. It’s important to use monomer properly to ensure strong, durable, and pain-free acrylic nails.

How Long Can Pain from Acrylic Nails Last?

The pain from acrylic nails can last for a week or even longer after getting them done. While some initial discomfort is normal, severe and prolonged pain is not supposed to be part of the experience.

It’s important to address any pain or discomfort with your nail technician as soon as possible, as there may be underlying issues that need to be addressed. Keep in mind that pressing on acrylic nails can also cause additional pain and discomfort, so it’s best to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on them.


In conclusion, there are several reasons why acrylic nails can cause discomfort. Factors such as the skill level of the nail technician, allergic reactions to glue, thin or sensitive nails, and improper nail shaping can all contribute to this pain.

However, by choosing an experienced technician, opting for a less pointy shape, doing a patch test on the glue, soaking fingers in ice water, and considering pain medication if necessary, you can prevent and alleviate the discomfort associated with acrylic nails.


1. Why does acrylic nails hurt?

Acrylic nails may cause discomfort or pain due to various reasons such as being poorly applied, exposing the nail bed abruptly while taking them off, or causing throbbing pain if they’re stuck on the natural nails.

2. What is acrylic nail discomfort?

Acrylic nail discomfort refers to the unpleasant sensation of sensitivity within your nail beds caused by application or removal of acrylic nails.

3. How can I relieve my acrylic nail pain?

To relieve the throbbing pain from acrylic nails, it would help to carefully remove any poorly applied or stuck overlays and give your natural nails some time to adjust and recover.

4. Are there side effects associated with wearing Acrylic Nails?

Yes, one common side effect experienced after having Acrylic Nails is ongoing sensitivity in the Nail beds which may result in a degree of Nail bed discomfort during the recovery period.

5. What causes Acrylic Nail problems like painful sensations?

The main cause for most Acrylic Nail issues is often improper application process where if overlays are not properly fixed on natural ones; it exposes underlying sensitive areas resulting in varied degrees of discomfort including hurting.

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Mila, the veteran beauty cosmetics professional and author of this article, while cutting and styling the hair of her client

Hi! I’m Mila M. I share my 44 year-experience as a Cosmetologist & Beauty Professional in this blog. This content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Consult your trusted Beauty Professional for your personal beauty needs.

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