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Why Do Acrylic Nails Hurt? [The Main Factors Causing Pain]

Acrylic nails are a popular option and look fantastic when applied; however, this doesn’t mean that they always go according to plan and expectation.

Sometimes, people report having to deal with pain after having acrylics applied and their nails done. Sometimes its subtle, other times its more severe and constant. Either way this is not something that you should have to put up with nor should expect.

When the nails do start hurting, it’s important to understand what the reason may be. That way, you’ll be able to take the steps and the appropriate changes to reducing the pain once and for all. So while you may have pain this time around, you can look to prevent it from your next manicure onwards.

Here is a detailed overview of why acrylic nails hurt and what to look out for going forward. 

Why Do Acrylic Nails Hurt?

Acrylic nail pain is generally associated with potential trauma to the area and the resulting symptoms. When changes are made to the body, the wrong technique can go a long way in damaging the skin and/or underlying elements of your finger. This is why it’s smart to go to the best nail salons and technicians with years of experience in offering acrylic nail services.

The pain will differ for each person. Some report dealing with twinges of pain here and there, while others mention a more chronic version as soon as the nails go on. This can become increasingly frustrating, and it’s important to analyze how the nails feel while getting them. This can go a long way in making sure the same mistakes aren’t made in the future.

Let’s break down what the leading causes can be and why it’s important to stay as careful as you can in a situation such as this.

Cracked Nails

This is a common cause and can happen to almost anyone.

Since you are always using your hands, there can come the point when the underlying fingernail cracks. This is similar to a situation where you don’t have acrylic nails and end up cracking the top surface of your fingernail. It’s not a comfortable feeling, and that’s something that will lead to pain. 

The amount of pain can vary depending on the type of crack and how deep it is. This is why it’s smart to keep the fingers safe at all times and not expose them to dangerous activities. When the underlying nail does get chipped or cracked, it has to heal over a longer period. Since there are nerves underneath, the pain can be quite frustrating. Even with acrylic nails, the natural fingernail isn’t going to be protected. This is a myth, and it’s still vital to keep it as safe as possible. 

If the nails are starting to hurt, the reason may not have to do with what’s on the top. It may have to do with your fingernails and whether or not they’re in good shape.

There are times when the nails can chip during the actual process of preparing acrylic nails. With the wrong specialist, they can do a tremendous amount of damage to the top surface, and that’s what leads to unrelenting pain. In a situation such as this, it’s best to keep the nail protected and avoid exposing it to additional trauma at all costs. Since it has already cracked, it’s time to let it heal.

One way that you can fasten the healing and sooth the nails simultaneously is to apply a natural remedy. My personal favorite is the Bee Natural Best Cuticle Oil – its an enriched treatment that revitalizes nails with all natural and nail health promoting ingredients.

Fungal Infection

Acrylic nails are set up in a manner where they can start to expose the natural nail underneath. When this starts to happen, there is a small gap that appears between the acrylic nail and the actual fingernail. This means there’s space for fungal infections to take rise and start to spread. The number one reason for this happening has to do with the cleanliness of the nail tech, how they prepare the nails, and how well everything is put into place. When the nails aren’t set up properly, the chances of developing a fungal infection go through the roof.

Due to the space between the acrylic nail and the genuine nail, there’s enough room for bacteria to find its way in. As a result, it becomes incredibly difficult to clean the actual nail, and the dirt starts to accumulate over the long-term. As more and more dirt/grime accumulates, it leads to additional worries about the infection getting worse. This is when the pain can start to appear.

Additional symptoms associated with a fungal infection may include redness in the area, discoloration, or discharge around the nail. 

Please take the time to read reviews about nail techs, how they go about their work, and what their sanitation standards are.

This includes visiting the location and making sure the right steps are taken.

For instance, tools should be cleaned regularly with appropriate products and not re-used on multiple clients.

It’s the only way to ensure you don’t end up dealing with an unwanted fungal infection and the pain that comes with it.

If you do suspect that you have a fungal infection in your nail, you can get an affordable Fungus Treatment that you can apply at home.

The Arishine Treatment has a wealth of positive reviews for eradicating fungus fast.

Nail Snag

Acrylic nail pain can happen for several reasons, and one of them has to do with nail snagging. This means as soon as the acrylic powder starts to stick to the genuine nail, it doesn’t set properly. This means there a bit of a “snag” between the two nails. It’s often associated with the idea of someone pulling at the nail, which can be quite painful.

In some cases, the nail snag can also lead to tangible damages such as a chipped nail or the entire nail falling apart. Depending on the situation, this pain tends to last for a few hours or days.

Excessive Filing

When the acrylic nails are being set up, the genuine nail is going to be worked on by the nail tech. This is the only way for the acrylic nail to sit in place nicely. Due to this, the nail tech is going to start filing the actual nail to make sure it looks the part. This is when excessive filing can take place and become a problem.

Over-filing is one of the main reasons for pain after getting acrylic nails. It can also lead to redness, depending on how excessive the filing was.

Thankfully, this one is more easy to prevent as you can either watch out for this yourself or be wary of your nail technician and their filing habits. Hopefully, your technician should understand proper filing technique, but some of the cheaper technicians and salons can even be guilty of this at times!


Yes, this can happen from time to time, even though it may seem rare.

An allergic reaction is possible depending on whether or not your body can handle the acrylic nails or the accompanying materials/glues. Its therefore always best to keep this in the back of your mind and if you find that you run into issues with specific brands, refrain from using them going forward.

You can always ask your nail technician or salon what product they use, and even ask for alternatives as they are likely to stock several brands with different formulations.

Final Thoughts

Acrylic nails are gorgeous and offer an aesthetic change that’s appealing. However, it’s important to understand how they feel and whether or not they’re going to work out for your needs.

There are many situations where a person has to deal with unrelenting pain due to their acrylic nails. It’s best to understand what the cause may be and make sure this doesn’t become a prolonged issue.

It’s highly recommended to seek a professional when it comes to getting new acrylic nails. This ensures the look and feel is in line with what you are after.