Why Do My Nails Hurt After Getting Them Done?

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For most women, a trip to the nail salon for a mani-pedi is usually a time to relax and pamper. However, it could quickly turn into a regrettable experience when you get home and start to feel some pain in your freshly painted fingernails. 

If you’re wondering why do my nails hurt the first night after getting them done, the good news is that it happens more often than you think. 

This can occur for a variety of reasons. Some culprits include sensitive or damaged nail beds, an aggressive or inexperienced nail tech, and strong chemicals used by the salon. 

In this article, we’ll explore the question “why do my nails hurt after getting them done?”, and we’ll discuss when to worry about your nail pain. 


Nails Hurt After Manicure? Is That Common?

A manicure or pedicure is supposed to be an enjoyable experience! Your fingernails should not hurt after a trip to the nail salon, regardless of the treatment you selected. 

In most cases, pain and discomfort in your fingernails after a mani-pedi is a sign to switch nail salons. It usually means your nail technician applied more force than necessary to your nails or used cheaper and harmful chemicals during the treatment. 

However, if this is your first time getting your nails professionally done, your nail beds may be more sensitive. Your nails might not be used to the chemicals and processes that a salon treatment entails.

Certain manicure types are more likely to produce discomfort than others. If you chose acrylic or gel for your new nails, you might feel a bit of soreness on the first night due to the hardening or bonding of the products to your natural nails.

While a bit of soreness is a typical symptom of aggressive treatment from an inexperienced nail tech, severe pain is not.

If you find yourself barely able to tolerate the nail pain from your manicure or pedicure, it could be a sign of infection or damage. 

Why Do My Nails Hurt After Getting Them Done? 

Regardless of whether you opted for acrylics or gel nails, here are some of the most common reasons why your nails hurt after getting them done. 

Aggressive Or Inexperienced Nail Tech

It’s possible that the nail technician who treated your nails was inexperienced or overly aggressive. They may have filed your natural nails too thin or pushed back your cuticles without applying cuticle oil to soothe the pain. 

Did the tech use a nail drill? Was it used properly?

Harmful Chemicals In Nail Glue 

A few nail salons try to cut costs by using cheaper glue. The harmful chemicals in some nail glues could be aggravating your nail bed and causing your nails to hurt. 

Sensitive Nail Bed

If you tried a new nail treatment or you only get your nails done as an occasional treat, your nail beds may simply not be used to the processes involved in a manicure or pedicure.

Similarly, if your nails are naturally sensitive or thin, discomfort tends to be more common.

Damaged Nails 

Your nails may have already been damaged prior to getting a manicure or pedicure, but the treatment exacerbated it resulting in nail pain. Could you have a broken nail under your new false nail?

Why Are My Nails Sore After Getting Acrylics? 

Acrylic Nails

While most people experience soreness in their nails after removing acrylics, getting them done is usually a pain-free process.

It usually feels strange at first especially if this is your first time trying this manicure, but acrylic nails typically should not hurt. 

In addition to the reasons in the last section, here are several other causes for your nail pain after an acrylic manicure. 

Over-Filed Nails 

The discomfort stemming from your new acrylic nails are most likely due to over filing. 

Your natural nails must be filed down for proper adhesion of the acrylics, but a nail technician who lacks experience might accidentally overdo it. 

MMA Acrylic

MMA (Methyl methacrylate) is an illegal acrylic product that leads to permanent damage to your natural nails. Despite this, a shady salon might use this product instead of the safer EMA (Ethyl methacrylate).

If your nails have a foul, fruity smell accompanying your nail pain, your salon may have used MMA acrylic liquid. However, the smell could also be an infection.

Thick Acrylics 

If your acrylic nails feel heavier than usual, the nail technician may have applied more acrylic than necessary. The thickness of your new acrylics could make the hardening and bonding process of the acrylics painful for your natural nails. 

C Curve Pinching 

While fixing your acrylic nails, the technician might have pinched your C curve too hard in an effort to make the acrylics look better.

The good news is that the pain should go away after a day or so. 

Is It Normal For Gel Nails To Hurt?

Gel Nails

Similar to acrylic, a gel manicure is supposed to be comfortable and pain-free for your nails. Though it’s quite uncommon, some women experience discomfort after getting their nails done with gel polish. 

Here are a few possible explanations for nail pain from a gel manicure.  

Excessive Shrinking 

When a nail tech applies multiple thick coats of gel on your natural nails, it could result in extra shrinking. This excessive shrinking could result in tightness and soreness in your nails. 

Heat Spike Sensitivity 

Depending on the type of gel you selected, some are more susceptible to a heat spike under a UV/LED lamp than others.

Heat spikes are caused by an exothermic reaction during the curing process.

If you noticed a burning sensation while they were under the nail lamp, your nails could just be sensitive due to the heat spike.   

I Just Got My Nails Done And They Hurt What Can I Do?

If your nails are hurting, you can take some Tylenol or other pain medication to dull the ache. With luck, your pain will be gone or greatly lessened in the morning.

But if you’re still feeling pain after a day or so, you may want to stop back into the salon and have them check your nails, or contact your doctor.

It’s possible you have an infection or other issues going on.

How Do I Know If I Have An Infection From A Nail Salon?

If you’re experiencing discomfort or pain after a manicure or pedicure, it’s only natural to ask yourself questions like “Why do my nails hurt the first night after getting them done?” and “Is it an infection?” 

The last thing you want or expect from a pamper session at a nail salon is a nail infection!

Paronychia, or an infection around the fingernail, is typically caused by unsterilized tools or instruments at the salon.

While most nail salons abide by regulations in place to prevent nail infection, some might be more lax in their cleaning and disinfecting protocols. 

In the event that your nail pain lasts longer than a day or two, it might be time to consider infection as the cause of irritation.

Check around your fingernails for these common symptoms of paronychia: 

  • swelling 
  • redness
  • tenderness
  • pus 
  • intense pain 

If you suspect a nail infection, consult your healthcare provider as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment. 

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).