Why Do My Acrylic Nails Hurt? 10 Things To Know To Prevent It

Have you ever asked yourself, why do my acrylic nails hurt? Are you feeling pain, soreness, itching, or any kind of irritation around the finger skin after getting acrylic nails? 

It’s not a new thing; many people have encountered this issue and sought answers to alleviate their discomfort. 

In this post, we will go deep into the reasons behind the pain associated with acrylic nails and help you understand why it happens and how to find relief. 

This blog is compiled after thorough research by our team of professional nail technicians having years of experience and talking to beauty health specialists from the Etiological Study of Nail Disorders.   

Why Do My Acrylic Nails Hurt? 10 Reasons And Their Solutions

A feeling of discomfort, pain, itching, and irritation in your fake nails may be due to various factors. Identifying the specific cause and resolving it is necessary to avoid serious health hazards. 

Below I’ve explained all the REASONS why acrylic nails hurt. 

  1. Preparing Nails Improperly 

Improper nail preparation is one of the common reasons why acrylic nails may cause pain.

When the natural nails are not adequately prepared, several problems can arise. 

Dirt or oil on the nails can create a barrier between the natural nail and the acrylic, which leads to poor adhesion. 

If the nails are not properly filed, the surface may be uneven, causing discomfort when the acrylic is applied. 

Buffing the nail beds helps to remove shine and improve the acrylic’s grip, but excessive buffing can damage the nails and result in pain.

Preventive Tips

To avoid this problem, I recommend you clean your nails very well and also apply acrylic nail primer, which can get you rid of oil and dust contaminants.  

Moreover, choose an experienced and skillful nail technician who knows how to cut file acrylic nails properly. 

Also, be focused while putting on your fake nails not cut or buff deeply. 

  1. Wrong Nail Tip Size

When the nail tips used for acrylic extensions are incorrect in size, it can lead to discomfort and pain. If the nail tips are too large, they can press against the sides of the natural nails, a feeling of tightness. 

On the other hand, if they are too small, they may not provide adequate support to the acrylic extension, which results in weakness and vulnerability to breakage.

Preventive Tips

To avoid nail pain, choose the correct size of nail tips that match the width and shape of your natural nails. 

For this, you have to first measure the size of your natural nail and then customize the nail tips accordingly by cutting and filling them correctly. 

Moreover, you should learn to do acrylic nails without tips, so that you don’t have to put on that extra supportive material for your fake nails.

  1. Incorrect Nail Applications

When the acrylic is applied wrongly, it can create an imbalance in the nails, resulting in discomfort. 

Irregular application may occur when acrylic products are not distributed evenly or the correct amount on each nail is not applied. 

Moreover, if the acrylic comes into contact with the surrounding skin or cuticles during the application process, it can cause pain and irritation. 

This can happen if you are not careful while placing the acrylic or if you apply it too close to the edges of the nails.

Preventive Tips

To get rid of acrylic nail irritations, go for high-quality acrylic products that are known for their durability and standard. 

Cheaper or low-quality products may induce more irritation. Don’t hesitate to discuss with your nail technician the brands they use and their reputation.

Also, communicate any distress or pain you may experience. A skilled technician will make the necessary adjustments to ensure your convenience. 

If you feel any sharp or excessive pressure, inform them immediately.

  1. Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to the chemicals present in acrylic products can cause pain, redness, swelling, and itching on your nails and surrounding skin.

These reactions occur when the immune system identifies certain components of the acrylic, such as methacrylate or other additives, as harmful substances and triggers an immune response.

Preventive Tips

Percent the acrylic material from touching the skin during application. Applying a barrier cream or petroleum jelly around the nail bed before doing your fake nails can also develop a protective layer.

Before doing acrylic nails, it’s possible to undergo a patch test to identify any potential allergies or sensitivities. 

This involves applying a small amount of the acrylic product to a small area of skin, usually on the forearm, and observing for any adverse reactions over a period of 24-48 hours.

However, if you have a known sensitivity to specific chemicals, inform your nail technician. They can recommend alternative products or work with you to find a solution that minimizes your risk of an allergic reaction.

  1. Over Filing 

Why do acrylic nails feel sore? Your acrylic nails may feel sore due to over-filing. When the nail bed is filed or buffed aggressively, it becomes thinner and leads to increased sensitivity which ultimately results in pain.

Preventive Tips

File your nails accurately, and always start with a finer grit-size file and buffer. Moreover, use a protective base coat or use a thin layer of gel or gel polish as a cushion between the natural nail and the acrylic material. 

This provides an additional wall and reduces the risk of direct contact between the acrylic and the nail bed.

  1. Nail Infection 

Nail infection may be the most common reason why your acrylic nails feel pain. It can occur when bacteria or fungi enter the nail bed or surrounding skin. 

Improper hygiene during the application or removal of acrylic nails can create an environment conducive to the growth of these microorganisms. 

Moreover, the infection can occur even after the nails are done perfectly if you don’t keep your fingers clean or expose them to excessive moisture.

Preventive Tips 

Ensure that the nail technician uses clean and sterilized tools during the entire process. They should also use fresh, uncontaminated, and acrylic products. 

If you’re doing it yourself, make sure to clean and sanitize your tools properly before and after use.

Dry your nails after exposing them to water, and also don’t forget to regularly clean under nails. 

  1. Nail Trauma

One of the basic causes of why acrylic nails hurt is nail trauma. Nail trauma refers to accidental hits or bumps to the acrylic nails. This can occur when the nails are long or have sharp edges, making them more susceptible to external forces.

Preventive Tips

To avoid this, consider keeping your acrylic nails at a moderate length that is more manageable and less likely to get in the way during daily activities.

Moreover, opting for more rounded or softer nail shapes can minimize the chances of trauma.

Take extra care while performing tasks like typing, opening containers, or handling sharp objects, as this is the time when you can damage your nails. 

  1. Acrylic Nail Lifting

Sometimes your nail lift or separates, and you may not notice as the separation might be minor, but it can really lead to inconvenience in the nails. 

There are various reasons why acrylic nails lift, such as improper application, insufficient nail preparation, or natural nail growth. 

When acrylic nails lift, it produces a small gap between the acrylic and natural nails which can provide room for microbes and contaminants.

Preventive Tips

The solution to minimising acrylic nail pain due to lifting is getting them removed or refilling them. 

Moreover, I recommend you do acrylic nails professionally on your own at home if you’ve gotten good manicure skills. 

However, if you’re not good at wearing these synthetic nails, I recommend not to try them as you’ll face complications later in the form of lifting.

Don’t compromise your health just to avoid acrylic nail fill expenses, and visit a skillful nail technician.  

  1. Prolonged wear 

Acrylic nails may survive for 3-4 weeks after which you have to refill or take them off. However, if you choose to put them on for an extended duration, they’ll start annoying you in the form of aches.    

Preventive Tips

Limit the duration of wearing acrylic nails, particularly if you have an underlying nail condition. 

Extended wear can develop a moist environment that promotes many health hazards or exacerbates existing conditions. 

Give your nails regular breaks to breathe and recover.

  1. Overlay Tightness

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do my nails hurt after getting acrylics done?” 

One of the main causes of nails hurting after doing acrylics is overlay tightness. It is somehow normal because the acrylic material brings a feeling of tightness after drying. However, if the pain is intense, it may be due to bulky nails. 

Preventive Tips 

Avoid thick layers of powder and liquid as they may put pressure on the natural nails. You may go for a lighter acrylic liquid substitute that doesn’t put too much weight. 


Why do my fingernails hurt after getting my nails done?

Your nails may hurt due to several reasons after putting them on, including using low-grade products, extensive nail buffing or filing, and too thick acrylic layers that induce a sense of tightness in the nails.  

Are acrylics supposed to hurt your nails?

No, acrylics as not supposed to hurt or feel discomfort as long as they are done professionally using reliable techniques, sterilized equipment, and reputed high-quality nail art products.   

Why does my nail hurt when I touch it?

If you feel any pain when touching your nails, it is probably due to soreness caused by an infection or sensitivity arising from thinning the nail bed due to aggressive filing.   

Why do acrylic nails hurt the first day?

In most people, the hurting of nails the first day is normal as the acrylic material develops a hard overlay that induces tightness which is assumed as pain by our brain.    

How to relieve pain from acrylic nails?

To relieve pain from acrylic nails, you must diagnose the potential reason first and then try to resolve it yourself or consult a professional. 


So, the query, “Why do my acrylic nails hurt” is addressed very well, along with the possible treatments and precautionary measures.

Nail pain arising from the lack of expertise and wrong applications may not bring serious health concerns, but those associated with infections and allergic reactions should never be ignored. 

Marissa Arnold

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