Why do my nails hurt after getting them done

why do my nails hurt after getting them done

Nails can hurt after getting them done for several reasons:

  1. Tightness or Pressure: The application of acrylic or gel nails may sometimes be too tight, causing discomfort. This can result from the nails being filed down excessively, which puts pressure on the nail bed and surrounding tissues, leading to soreness.
  2. Nail Damage: Aggressive filing or improper removal of previous nail enhancements can damage the natural nails, making them sensitive and painful.
  3. Chemical Sensitivity: Some people may be sensitive to the chemicals used in nail products, leading to irritation and discomfort.
  4. Infection: Poor hygiene during the nail application process or damaged nails can create an opportunity for infection, which may cause pain and swelling.
  5. Nail Bed Trauma: Accidental trauma or excessive pressure on the nail bed can result in pain and discomfort.

It’s essential to communicate any discomfort with your nail technician to address the issue properly. If you experience severe pain, signs of infection, or persistent discomfort, consult a healthcare professional. Proper nail care, maintenance, and choosing a reputable nail salon can help minimize the chances of nail pain after getting them done.

Why do my nails hurt after getting them done

Why do my nails hurt after getting them done
Why do my nails hurt after getting them done

Possible Causes of Nail Pain After a Salon Service

Having your nails done can be a relaxing experience, but it is not uncommon for them to feel sore or tender afterwards. This is often due to the tools and techniques used during the process. If the technician filed your nails too aggressively or applied too much pressure, it can cause pain and discomfort. Additionally, the application of acrylic or gel nails can lead to soreness as your natural nails adjust to the added weight and thickness. It is important to communicate any discomfort with your nail technician and consider taking breaks between nail appointments to give your nails a chance to recover. [1]

Tight or Too Thin Application

The number one cause of hurting nails is often due to the application being too tight or thin. Techs must file and shape the natural nail carefully without making them overly thin or fragile. If nails are filed down too much, it can leave them prone to pain, cracking, or splitting. Meanwhile, if artificial nails like acrylics or gels aren’t applied with the proper lifting techniques, they can end up being too tight against the nail bed. This constriction and pressure is very uncomfortable.

Over-filing or Damage to the Nail Bed

Aggressive filing, especially of the nail bed area, can lead to pain, irritation, and damage over time. The skin under the nail must remain undamaged for health and comfort. Over-enthusiastic filing in this area removes too much of the nail plate, making nails prone to pain, discoloration, and fungal infections down the line.

Chemical Sensitivities or Allergies

While rare, some people develop sensitivities or contact allergies to specific nail products like acrylics, gels, or certain polishes. Even if a person has used these chemicals before without issue, sensitivities can still develop over time. Coming into contact with an irritating ingredient post-service causes stinging, itching, or tenderness. Patch testing is wise before any new products are used.

Bacteria or Fungus Under Artificial Nails

When artificial nails like acrylics trap moisture under the tip, it breeds bacteria and fungus. The infected area under the nails becomes swollen and sore. This is more likely if regular sanitizing of nails isn’t practiced between fills.

Bruised or Damaged Cuticles

Rough cuticle pushing and trimming during manicures can bruise the delicate skin, leading to flare-up cuticles. If swollen or irritated cuticles, then put pressure on the surrounding nail area.

Trauma From Regular Nail Activities

Even with proper application, manually intensive activities like typing on keyboards all day or playing instruments can cause minor chips, snags, or tears in artificial nails over time. This repeated micro-trauma contributes to nagging nail pain.

What to Do for Sore Nails After a Manicure

Thankfully, there are a number of remedies that can help soothe and speed the healing of aching nails post-manicure:

Give Them Air

Avoid keeping nails sealed under gloves or nail polish for at least a day after services. Exposure to air circulation promotes drying and aids the nail in adapting to its newly shaped form.

Use an Ice Pack

Gently applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or tissue to the nail area for 10 minutes several times a day reduces swelling and eases discomfort. The cold constricts blood vessels to lower inflammation.

Try Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Oral pain relievers containing acetaminophen or ibuprofen can temporarily diminish nail sensitivity. As needed, take as directed on the bottle.

Moisturize Cuticles

Gently massage a small amount of cuticle cream or oil around the fingertips to soothe any irritated skin and nails. This hydration speeds healing.

Change Habits Temporarily

Avoid activities likely to snag or bump nails, like yard work, until they’ve hardened again. Be especially delicate when washing dishes or using appliances.

Apply Nail Hardener

A nail hardening formula with calcium helps nails recover strength. Use it as directed until the discomfort subsides.

Take a Break From Nail Services

Give nails 2-4 weeks off between artificial sets to let the natural nail fully regrow in a healthy manner before being worked on again.

Consider Switching Techniques

If pain persists with certain methods like acrylics, switch to gentler alternatives, like gel manicures to see if symptoms improve over repeated applications.

See a Doctor if Needed

In rare cases of severely swollen, infected, or unchanged painful nails, see a dermatologist for examination and prescription of oral antibiotics or antifungals.

Prevention is Key

To avoid soreness in the future, ask techs to shape natural nails conservatively without excessive filing and pick polishes you’ve used successfully before. Good hygiene between fills also wards off potential bacterial or fungal issues. With the right care and application techniques, nails shouldn’t have to hurt to look beautiful.

Causes of Persistent Discomfort

If nails remain sensitive weeks after a manicure despite self-care, there could be an underlying health condition contributing to symptoms. Things like psoriasis, eczema or lesser-known nail disorders may require evaluation by a doctor. They can examine for infection, deformity, or other structural nail issues needing medical treatment or management. Early intervention leads to healthier nails.

Other Options for Sensitive Nails

Not everyone’s nails tolerate frequent salon services or certain processing methods. Those with regularly painful or aggravated nails have alternatives still allowing beautifully maintained hands:

  • Acrylic-free enhancements like gel polish or dip powders cause less damage when removed.
  • Biweekly or monthly manicures rather than weekly visits are less stressful on nails.
  • At-home nail kits let DIY gentle polishing without harsh tools.
  • Going makeup-free or with sheer polish when nails need TLC still looks pulled together.
  • Fake nails can switch to low-profile press-on for special occasions versus damaging extensions.

The bottom line is that no one should have to suffer nail pain just to feel put together. With open communication, modified routines, and temporary substitutions, it is possible for even sensitive nails to look polished without compromising health or comfort. With preventative care and available remedies, post-manicure soreness needn’t last.


Getting adjusted to new nail shapes and artificial extensions understandably causes some initial tenderness, but persistent pain could indicate deeper issues requiring addressing. Being mindful of signs like swelling, redness, or drainage and speaking up about discomfort to nail techs helps ensure proper filing techniques and applications going forward.

Minor self-care remedies can swiftly ease most nail soreness, allowing one to enjoy their enhanced style without lingering discomfort. Care, communication, and tailoring routines to individual nail needs keeps them looking beautiful while feeling their best.


Why do my nails hurt after getting them done?

Your nails may hurt if they were filed too thin, the artificial nails were applied too tightly, or your cuticles were pushed back too roughly. This can cause bruising, tenderness, or pressure on the nail bed.

How can I relieve nail pain after a manicure?

Some things that may help include using an ice pack, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, avoiding activities that stress your nails, moisturizing cuticles, and allowing your nails some time exposed to air between wearing polish.

Is it normal for nails to ache a little after acrylics or gels?

Mild discomfort for a day or two is normal as your nails adjust to the new shape and extensions. But pain lasting over a week could indicate an issue like an improper application or damage to the nail bed that needs addressing.

What are the signs an acrylic nail may be infected?

Watch for redness, swelling, heat, or pus under the nail. You may also have pain that worsens or spreads beyond the nail area. Seeing a doctor is wise if symptoms don’t clear with self-care remedies within a few days.

Why do my nails throb after getting acrylic redone?

Throbbing could mean the previous layer of acrylic wasn’t fully removed before reapplying, which can put pressure on the natural nail. Soaking nails longer in acetone before removal may be needed.

Does removing acrylics without acetone damage natural nails?

Yes, trying to remove acrylics without the proper soaking and gentle pushing can break or rip off layers of the natural nail, leading to pain, ingrown nails, or infection. It’s always best to soak nails to safely dissolve the acrylic bond.

How can I alleviate pain from longer nails?

Be extra gentle when using your hands. Consider a nail strengthening polish and avoid activities that stress long nails. Give them time to adjust to the added length and file any sharp edges, causing pain or snags on surfaces. Consider slightly shorter lengths if pain persists.

Why do acrylic nails sometimes hurt the natural nails underneath?

The most common cause of natural nail pain from acrylics is a too-tight application putting undue pressure on the nail bed. Using nail gardeners periodically can help protect natural nails from potential damage and micro-traumas over time.

How do I ease pain from dip powder or gel extensions?

Some soothing methods are—using cuticle oil, taking an OTC pain reliever, applying an ice pack, filing off any sharp edges, not wearing gloves or doing activities that could catch/bump nails, and keeping them polished to allow the extensions to breathe. Most discomfort subsides within a few days.

How can I remove acrylics without acetone if it causes nail damage?

If acetone removal is damaging natural nails, see a nail tech for gentle professional removal. You can also soak in non-acetone nail polish remover, but results will take longer and natural nails must be protected from damage during the process. Consider gentler enhancement methods if acrylics repeatedly cause problems.

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