Broken Acrylic Nail Throbbing. Ouch! Here’s How to Fix It!

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Acrylic nails are known for their beauty, convenience, and durability. But they’re not invincible. Acrylics, like many types of fake nails, can be damaged and broken as you do your daily activities.

If the acrylics break, you may simply need to have them repaired… if you’re lucky. 

However, when the pain comes and you have a broken acrylic nail throbbing, you’ve got greater problems. It’s possible your natural nail is broken underneath, too.

Throbbing pain can be caused by damage to your natural nail. But it can also be caused by the actual force that broke your acrylic nails. 

You can’t really be sure that you have a broken nail under your acrylic without removing the acrylic nails first (unless it’s bleeding).

However, that doesn’t mean that you should immediately remove your acrylic nails. It may be better to patch the broken nail, instead.

Below, we will discuss what you should do in case you feel throbbing pain with a broken acrylic nail. We’ll also discuss other causes of the throbbing pain, aside from the broken nail. 


Broken Acrylic Nail Throbbing? What’s Going On?

Blingy Nails

When you suddenly hit your nail on a hard object or when you abuse your acrylic nails, it’s possible to feel that throbbing pain. The pain can be temporary, or it can just last for a few minutes.

Either way, the first thing you should do is to calm yourself down and don’t rush into doing things to your nail.

Deep breath, deep breath.

Deep breath, deep breath.

Why Does My Acrylic Nail Hurt After Hitting It?

First, assess your nail before trying to figure out a way to fix it. Give it a few minutes after hitting that hard object so you can also calm down a bit.

When you feel pain, that pain can make you frantic. 

Sometimes, you can easily see if your natural nail is broken underneath the acrylic nails if the affected part is over the free edge, or if you can see from underneath.

On the other hand, if the damage is over the nail bed, you won’t be able to see it unless it is bleeding or until you remove the acrylic nails.  

On the other hand, if the damage is over the nail bed, you won’t be able to see it unless it is bleeding or until you remove the acrylic nails.  

Disinfect First

Before doing anything to your nails, disinfect them. A break in the nail or a vertical split can make them prone to developing an infection. The best way to do it is to use rubbing alcohol to disinfect the nail.

Yes, it’s going to hurt. But you need to do it in order to disinfect any bacteria that may be present.

Yes, it’s going to hurt. But you need to do it in order to disinfect any bacteria that may be present.

You can also cover up the nail in the meantime, then head to your nail technician at a salon so they can fix the nail. 

If you’re easily able to get to a salon, your best bet is to go there for help, particularly if it’s bleeding.

If you’re easily able to get to a salon, your best bet is to go there for help, particularly if it’s bleeding.

The acrylic product needs to be removed from the natural nails so it can be repaired. Nail technicians can gently file this off, possibly with an electric nail file.

They will need to be very careful doing this so that they don’t worsen the break in the natural nail.

While filing the nail off, they will support the nail as much as possible to prevent it from moving and being painful. 

When the acrylic has been removed, the nail technician can simply cut off the broken nail if it is over the free edge. Acrylics can be used to lengthen the nails so your nails can still match with the rest.

Alternatively, you may also choose not to lengthen the nail and just have the others shortened to match.

My Nail Broke Really Far Down and It Hurts!

If the broken nail reaches the nail bed, it can be really painful. However, that break needs to be repaired so that it doesn’t develop an infection.

All the lifted acrylic should be removed (but maybe not by you).

Once the acrylic nails have been filled off, the natural nails are exposed. You can now assess the damage and determine the next steps.

If it’s not too bad, you can replace the acrylic.

Nail glue is applied over the area to connect the broken nail. Some at-home remedies also recommend using a piece of teabag, then nail glue over the nails. This gives support for the nails until they grow out and can finally be cut. 

Can you use household glue?

You don’t want to be messing around with things like Krazy Glue for nails, even if that’s the only thing you have at home. Nail glue is designed for use in the body. Using the wrong nail glue can lead to pain.

With the nail repaired, acrylic nails can now be placed over them once again and can be designed to match the others (or do something different!).

Acrylic nails are a good choice when repairing broken nails because they are tough and durable. But note that the longer your acrylics, the weaker they are.

How to Remove a Broken Acrylic Nail

If at all possible, go to your salon and have a professional fix your acrylic nail. But salons will not be open after hours, or you may not be able to get to the salon for whatever reason.

If your nail is bleeding and broken far down, you may want to go to an urgent care clinic and have a medical professional help you out.

You should only attempt to remove a broken acrylic if the break is not too bad. If you’ve got a bad, painful broken acrylic, a better solution is to patch the nail then get to the nail salon when you can.

They can properly fix it for you.

You should only attempt to remove a broken acrylic if the break is not too bad.

1. Disinfect Your Tools

Get some rubbing alcohol and disinfect your nail tools.

2. Disinfect Your Broken Nail

Yes, this is going to hurt, but you still need to do it. You could have bacteria in the break that can lead to bigger problems down the road.

Gently rub the broken nail with rubbing alcohol and ensure that it gets into the broken area.

3. Cut The Acrylic Nail Back As Far as Possible

Using nail clippers or nail scissors, cut the acrylic as close to the skin as possible. Get rid of as much as possible to make it easier to remove the nail.

4. Soak The Acrylic Nail In Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover

This may hurt, and if it hurts too much you should abandon this process and patch your acrylic instead (see below).

If you’re able to handle the pain, soak the acrylic for 30-40 minutes until the acrylic has loosened.

5. Remove the Acrylic Nail

Once the acrylic has loosened, gently pull it off with tweezers. At this point, assess the break and decide whether you need further medical attention.

Can you soak a broken acrylic nail in an acetone nail polish remover?

You can, but it’s going to hurt a lot. You have to soak acrylics for 30 minutes or more in order to get the acrylic off the nail, and that’s a long time for pain.

How To Patch a Broken Acrylic Nail

If you can’t immediately get to a salon or urgent care, you can try to patch your acrylic nail. This is probably the best solution that will buy you some time.

Here’s how to patch your nail. Note: you will need nail glue to do this, you cannot use other types of glue.

1. Disinfect your Nail Tools

You don’t want to make any potential infection worse, so it’s important to disinfect your nail clippers, scissors, tweezers, etc. — all your nail tools.

Pour some rubbing alcohol into a bowl and soak the tools in that for a bit.

2. Disinfect your Nail

As mentioned above, this is the hard one. You need to apply rubbing alcohol to your broken nail, which is gonna hurt. It is important to clean this area because it is a wound and could become infected.

Do not skip this step.

2. Cut your Acrylic Nail as Short as Possible

Using your nail scissors or clippers, cut your acrylic nail as low as you possibly can, removing as much of the nail as you can.

Don’t worry about the look, you can address that later. For now, just focus on the nail.

3. Let Your Nail Dry

Ensure that your nail is fully dry so that you can apply nail glue to it.

4. Gently Glue Down the Broken Nail Using Nail Glue

Using nail glue (and not super glue or any other type of glue!), gently re-glue the broken area to the surrounding nail. Do not use any other type of household glue, it has to be nail glue.

If you don’t have nail glue, don’t attempt this.

Causes Of  Pain While Wearing Acrylic Nails

1. Nail Snag

Nail snags are perhaps the most common cause of pain while wearing your acrylic nails. The acrylic adheres directly to your nail. When you abuse your acrylics (like when you try to grip something inappropriately) you can end up snagging the nail.

This could result in a chip, crack, or break in the nail.

Such force can be painful, and the pain could last from a few minutes to a few days! It all depends on how badly damaged the nails are.

2. Acrylic Has A Crack

Whether you hit something hard with your acrylic nails or accidentally snagged it on something, a crack can happen. Sometimes, the crack can only affect the acrylic and not the natural nail bed. In this case, you’ll just feel temporary pain due to the force of hitting an object.

However, it is possible that your nails underneath the acrylic were impacted as well. It may not only cause throbbing pain, but also redness, swelling, and even bleeding.

When this happens, it is best to have the acrylic nail removed so that the natural nail can heal properly before the acrylic nail is reapplied. 

3. Infection

With acrylic nails, there is a chance of lifting from the base. That could cause a gap between the real nail and the acrylic nail. Dirt and moisture could fill that gap. Plus, if the equipment used on the nails is unsanitary, bacteria and fungi might contaminate that space.

Uck. You’ve got an infection.

With bacterial or fungal infections, you can observe redness, pain, and a buildup of white pus on the base of the nail. Sometimes, the natural nail may develop an unnatural color or thickness. 

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reaction to acrylic nails or nail glues is a rare incidence, but it is possible. Those who have sensitive skin could have contact dermatitis, which could mean that the acrylics are too harsh for them.

If you’re having an allergic reaction, you may experience pain, redness, and swelling. 

Over-Filing Of Nails

Before the acrylic nails are applied, the natural nail is filed down to make it coarser. This coarser surface makes it more likely for the acrylic base to stick to the natural nail.

However, some could file the nail down too far.

This can be irritating and could cause pain and redness. Also, as the real nails are filed down and made thinner, they will be more likely to crack or get snagged.

And did anyone use a nail drill on those nails…?

How To Relieve Pain From Acrylic Nails

If your nails are throbbing and pain is radiating up your hand, grab a towel and some ice or an ice pack. You can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol, which will soothe the pain somewhat.

After a few minutes, if your pain hasn’t stopped, it may be time to reach out to your salon and see if they can see you to address the acrylic nail issue.

And again, do not skip the disinfection step!


Acrylic nails are durable and beautiful. But sometimes you can still get a broken, throbbing nail underneath them, so be careful.

Throbbing pain can be felt immediately after having the broken nail and can persist unless the nail is repaired.

Disinfecting the nail is the first thing to do, and it is critical to ensuring that the situation doesn’t get worse. You can take over-the-counter pain medication like Tylenol to dull the pain if it doesn’t go away on its own.

If the pain isn’t stopping, it’s best to call your nail salon and try to get in to get it fixed ASAP.

And just as a friendly reminder, be sure to take a break from acrylics every couple of months to let your nails have some breathing time.

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).