Throbbing Pain Under an Acrylic Nail: A Comprehensive Guide to Relief

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Acrylic nails can make your hands look extra special. They’re tough and beautiful, but they can break when you’re just going about your day.

Now picture this: you have a broken acrylic nail. That’s a bummer, right? But what if the problem is more serious than that? What if there’s a throbbing pain under an acrylic nail? This could mean that your real nail underneath is also broken and hurting badly.

This kind of throbbing pain under an acrylic nail might be because of the broken acrylic itself. But it could also be a sign that your natural nail underneath is injured, too. The tough part is, you can’t really tell if this is the case unless you take off the acrylic nail (unless you see blood, of course).

Before you rush to remove your acrylics, remember that sometimes it’s better to try fixing the broken nail instead.

In this article, we’ll discuss what you should do if you’re dealing with throbbing pain under a broken acrylic nail. We’ll also talk about other reasons why you might be feeling this kind of pain. So, let’s dive in and figure out how to handle these tricky situations!


Throbbing Pain Under an Acrylic Nail? What’s Going On?

Blingy Nails

You just hit your acrylic nail on something hard, or maybe you’ve abused them by washing your dishes, and now there’s a throbbing pain. This pain could fade quickly, or it could linger for a bit. Either way, the key is not to panic.

Why Does Your Acrylic Nail Hurt?

It’s time to take a close look at your nail. If you can see your natural nail sticking out from under the acrylic or from underneath, your natural nail might be broken, too. If the break is under the acrylic on your nail bed, it might be harder to see unless there’s blood.

First Aid for Your Nail

Clean the nail with rubbing alcohol to get rid of any bacteria. If there’s a real nail split, the alcohol will almost certainly hurt, but it’s crucial to prevent infection.

Once it’s clean, cover it up and head to the salon if you can, especially if it’s bleeding or part of the nail has been removed.

At the Salon: Removing the Acrylic

Your nail technician will need to gently remove the acrylic from your natural nail. They’ll do this carefully to avoid making the break worse. They’ll support the nail to keep it from moving too much and causing more pain.

If the Break is at the Tip

Once the acrylic is off, if the break is at the tip (the free edge), your nail technician can trim it off. They can then add more acrylic to match the length of your other nails. Or, you might choose to have your other nails trimmed down to match the shorter one.

When the Nail Broke Really Far Down

If the break reaches the nail bed, it’s almost always pretty painful. But it’s important to fix it to prevent infection.

The lifted acrylic should be removed by a professional. Once it’s gone, you can see the damage and decide what to do next. If it’s not too bad, you might be able to replace the acrylic.

Repairing the Broken Nail

Your nail technician can apply special nail glue to connect the broken parts. Some people recommend using a piece of teabag with the nail glue for extra support while your nail grows out. 

But remember, don’t use household glue like Krazy Glue. It’s not made for your body, and can lead to further pain down the road.

Time for New Acrylics

After the nail is fixed, you can have acrylic nails applied again.

They can match the others or have a new design. Acrylic nails are strong, which makes them good for fixing broken nails.

But remember, the longer they are, the more likely they are to break. So, keep them at a length that works for you!

How to Remove a Broken Acrylic Nail

In an ideal world, you’d head straight to the salon to get a broken acrylic nail fixed. But sometimes, salons aren’t open or you can’t get there. If your nail is bleeding badly or broken very far down, you might need to go to an urgent care clinic instead.

You should only try to remove a broken acrylic at home if the break isn’t too bad. If it’s a painful break, it might be better to patch it and get to the salon when you can for a professional repair.

Step 1: Clean Your Tools and Your Nail

Grab some rubbing alcohol and clean all your nail tools. Next, gently clean the broken nail with the rubbing alcohol. Yes, it might sting, but it’s necessary to kill any bacteria that could cause an infection.

Step 2: Trim the Acrylic Nail

Using nail clippers or scissors, cut the acrylic nail back as close to your skin as you can. This makes the nail easier to remove.

Step 3: Soak Your Nail in Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

This part might hurt. If it’s too painful, stop and patch the nail instead. If you can handle it, soak the nail in acetone-free nail polish remover for about 30 to 40 minutes until the acrylic loosens.

Step 4: Remove the Acrylic Nail

Once the acrylic is loose, gently pull it off with tweezers. Then, take a look at the break to decide if you need to see a medical professional.

Can You Use an Acetone Nail Polish Remover?

You could, but it might be really painful. Acrylics need to soak for at least 30 minutes to come off, and that’s a long time if it hurts. It’s better to stick with acetone-free remover for this.

How to Patch a Broken Acrylic Nail at Home

Sometimes, you can’t get to the salon or urgent care right away. If this is the case, patching your acrylic nail can be a good temporary fix. You will need nail glue for this—regular glue just won’t work.

Step 1: Clean Your Tools and Your Nail

It’s important to prevent infection, so clean your nail tools first. Simply soak them in some rubbing alcohol. Next, clean your broken nail with the rubbing alcohol. This part might sting, but it’s necessary to keep the area clean.

Step 2: Trim the Acrylic Nail

Using scissors or clippers, trim the acrylic nail as short as you can. Don’t worry about how it looks right now—just focus on removing as much of the nail as possible.

Step 3: Dry Your Nail

Make sure your nail is completely dry. This way, the nail glue will stick better.

Step 4: Apply Nail Glue

Now, use nail glue (and only nail glue—no super glue or anything like that) to carefully glue the broken part to the rest of the nail. If you don’t have nail glue, don’t try this. It’s best to wait until you can get some or until you can see a professional.

Why Do Acrylic Nails Sometimes Hurt?

1. Nail Snags

The most common cause of pain with acrylic nails is nail snags. If you’re a bit rough on your nails—like trying to grip something the wrong way—you might snag one. This could lead to a chip, crack, or even a broken nail.

Depending on how bad the damage is, you could feel pain for a few minutes or even a few days.

2. Cracked Acrylic

Maybe you accidentally bumped your hand or caught your nail on something. Now, your acrylic nail has a crack. If it’s just the acrylic and not your real nail underneath, the pain might be temporary. But if your real nail was damaged, too, you could have throbbing pain, swelling, and even bleeding.

If this happens, it’s best to take off the acrylic nail so your real nail can heal.

3. Infections

Sometimes, an acrylic nail lifts away from your real nail, leaving a gap. Dirt and moisture can get trapped in this space. Plus, if the tools used on your nails weren’t clean, you could end up with a bacterial or fungal infection.

You might see redness, feel pain, and notice a buildup of white pus or even green under the nails. Your nail might also change color or get thicker.

4. Allergic Reactions

Some people can have an allergic reaction to acrylic nails or nail glue. It’s rare, but possible, especially for those with sensitive skin. You might feel pain and see redness and swelling if you’re having a reaction.

5. Over-Filing

Before you get acrylic nails, the nail technician files down your real nails. This rougher surface helps the acrylic stick better. But if someone files too much, your nails could get thin and weak, and the nails may not adhere as well.

This can be irritating and painful, and your nails will be more likely to break or snag. And using a nail drill could make things even worse.

6. A New Set of Acrylics

Occasionally you will feel pain in your fingertips for a day or two after getting a new set of acrylic nails. It may be an allergy (as mentioned above) but it can often just be your fingers getting used to the feel and weight of the nails.

Easing the Pain from Acrylic Nails

If your acrylic nails are causing you pain and it’s starting to spread up your hand, don’t panic. Here’s what you can do:

1. Use Ice: 

Get a towel and some ice, or use an ice pack. This will help to numb the area and reduce swelling.

2. Take Pain Relief: 

Over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol can also help with the pain.

3. Call Your Salon: 

If the pain isn’t going away after a few minutes, it’s a good idea to call your nail salon. They can advise you on what to do next.

Remember, don’t skip disinfecting your nail! It’s really important to keep the area clean to prevent infection.

Prevention Measures to Avoid Breaking an Acrylic Nail

Preventing problems before they arise is always the best strategy, especially when it comes to your nails. Here are some tips on how to prevent damage to acrylic nails and the natural nails underneath.

1. Regular Maintenance: 

Regular nail care is essential to keep your acrylics looking great and staying strong. Schedule fill-ins with your nail technician every 2 to 3 weeks to keep your acrylics in top shape.

2. Proper Hygiene: 

Make sure to wash your hands regularly, especially after using public facilities or before eating. Keeping your hands and nails clean can help prevent infections.

3. Avoid Nail-Biting and Picking: 

Biting or picking at your acrylic nails can cause damage to both the acrylic and your natural nail. It can also lead to infection. If you have a habit of biting or picking at your nails, try to find alternative ways to keep your hands busy.

4. Wear Gloves When Doing Household Chores: 

Household chores involving water or chemicals can weaken the acrylic and cause your natural nails to become soft. This can lead to lifting or breaking of the acrylic nail. Wearing rubber gloves during these tasks can help protect your nails.

5. Maintain a Healthy Diet: 

Your diet affects your overall health, including your nails. Consuming a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein can contribute to strong, healthy nails.

6. Avoid Using Nails as Tools: 

This is a common mistake that can easily lead to broken or damaged nails. Do not use your nails to open cans, remove staples, or do other tasks that can apply pressure to them.

7. Keep Nails at a Reasonable Length: 

Longer nails are more prone to breaking or getting caught on things. Keeping your nails at a manageable length can reduce the risk of injury.

Remember, even with the best preventive measures, sometimes accidents still happen. If your acrylic nail does break, it’s crucial to take the right steps to care for it as discussed earlier in this article.

Wrapping Up

Acrylic nails are both strong and pretty, but they can sometimes hide a painful, broken nail underneath. So, always be gentle with them.

If you get a throbbing pain after breaking an acrylic nail, it could stick around until the nail is fixed. The first thing to do is clean the nail well to stop the situation from getting worse. If the pain continues, you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine like Tylenol.

If the pain doesn’t stop, it’s a good idea to call your nail salon right away to get your nail fixed.

Remember, it’s also important to give your nails a break from acrylics every few months. This lets your nails breathe and stay healthy.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).