Acrylic nail extensions can make your nails look incredible while protecting them from breaking and cracking. Their versatility in shape, size, design, and high durability are some of their perks over other manicures. People can wear acrylic nails to help conceal natural nails that are damaged, short, or undesirable.
However, poorly fitted acrylic nails, improper removal, and long-term use can seriously damage your nail bed and hinder natural growth.
There is also a risk of infection when a disreputable nail salon applies your acrylic nails. If you discover your nail beds are damaged from wearing acrylic nails, and you’re wondering how to fix them, this article discusses practical solutions to help you.
The Process of Acrylic Nails
Before discussing why damage occurs, you must know the acrylic nail process. Firstly, your natural nails are filed before the acrylic nail is applied.
Acrylic nails are derived from a combination of two chemical components called liquid monomer and polymer powder (L&P system.) When applied to your nail bed, they seal in place when exposed to air.
After two weeks of acrylics, you are advised to return to your nail technician for a fill-in. The fill-in is intended to fill any gap between your natural nail and the acrylic nails to prevent water, dirt, or bacteria from getting trapped. Otherwise, the nail may start to lift or break.
After your regular fill-in appointments, you can fix a new set of acrylic nails after a few months. Your old set will be removed by soaking off in acetone nail remover before the new set is applied.
Ultimately, there is a high chance that your nail bed can get damaged during the initial fixing, regular fill-in, or removal process- if improperly done by the nail technician.
Can Acrylic Nails Cause Nail Damage?
No, acrylic nails don’t cause damage ordinarily. The acrylic product doesn’t damage your nail bed- except if you are reactive to the chemical.
However, like other fake nail enhancements, the damage comes from improper preparation, application, or if the nails are removed incorrectly. The health of your nails has a lot to do with the skill of the nail tech fixing or removing them.
For one, during the fixing process, your nail bed will be filled to allow the faux nails to adhere better. Overfilling can thin your nail beds and cause them to become brittle.
This can also make them easily prone to tears and peeling, which is damaging and can take a while to repair.
Also, it’s not unusual for artificial nails to undergo stress from daily activities. Hence, we always discourage exerting too much stress and pressure on your acrylic manicure as they can break or lift, resulting in nail damage.
Plus, if your natural nail was not healthy before fixing acrylics, or you went to a disreputable nail salon with inexperienced nail techs, then it’s almost impossible for nail damage not to occur. However, whether the damage is minor or severe, it can be repaired if proper steps are taken.
How do you Know If your Nail Bed is Damaged?
Acrylic nails are usually bonded to real nails using adhesive or nail glue. However, improper application can make your nails weak and thin.
When the nails become loose, moisture can get trapped between the artificial nails and your nail bed. As a result, fungal infection is almost inevitable as bacteria thrive in moist environments.
Also, if removed improperly, your natural nails may rip off and become tender, leaving your nail bed raw and exposed.
If you are unsure your nail beds are damaged, here are tell-tale signs to look out for.
- You may experience pain when you touch your nail beds.
- You may experience splitting and peeling.
- Your nail bed becomes dry, brittle, and thin.
- They may break or easily show signs of wear and tear.
- Bad smell emitting from the surface of the nail bed
- There may be bleeding around the nails.
- Your nail bed may hurt when doing regular activities like showering, typing, or doing dishes.
- You may notice signs of unusual discoloration (yellow, green, black, or white spots)
- Your nails may peel and separate from the skin.
- There may be horizontal or vertical ridges that extend from your cuticle to your fingernail tips or from one side of your nail to the other.
- There may be itchiness, redness, or swelling.
- Your real nails may separate from the nail bed, a nail disorder called “onycholysis.”
- There may also be nail bed laceration, a condition where there is a cut through your nail and the underlying nail bed, etc.
All these symptoms can be minor or severe, extremely painful, or can limit your hand movement. Regardless, they can be fixed, as you will see below.
Can you Fix a Damaged Nail Bed?
Most nail bed injuries and damage can be fully repaired with the appropriate nail treatment. However, the repair will differ depending on the type of injury.
Unfortunately, in rare cases, a serious nail bed injury can result in nail deformities. But before it degenerates into a severe condition, seeing a doctor is best.
While some damage can fix itself, others require medications and extra care. To repair nail bed injury, the damaged nails must grow out completely, so they can be replaced with healthy nails.
Natural nails grow slowly. Depending on the damage and how long your nail beds are, it can take about three to six months, so you must be patient.
Also, we recommend you use nail strengthening products to restore your nail structure while infusing them with a fibrous protein called keratin.
Once you’ve given your nails enough time to heal, it’s best to prevent further damage by using non-toxic protecting products.
Can a Damaged Nail Bed Recover?
Injuries to your nail bed can be fully recovered with the appropriate care. Natural nail damage from acrylics is minor and can be treated at home.
While home remedies can work wonders in recovery, you can still get professional help to speed up the process.
A professional can employ specific nail treatment solutions to ensure your damaged nail beds heal appropriately. The treatment can create a smooth surface on which a new nail can grow.
Depending on the damage’s seriousness, it may take a few months for your nails to fully recover. But with proper treatment, the growth rate eventually returns to normal.
What Can I do If My Nail Beds are Damaged from Acrylics?
If your nail beds are damaged due to wearing acrylics or gel nails, here is a list of what you can do.
Cut them Short
Cutting your nails short will remove the thin and weak parts of your nail to prevent further damage to your nail bed. You can also use a cuticle pusher to push back on your cuticles to keep them neat and intact.
File your Nails in One Direction
We advise using a fine-grit nail file as it is kinder to your nails than e-files. Start from one outside edge of your nail and move across the nail in that one direction. Stay away from going back and forth, as this can ruin the edges of your nails.
Take Note of the Hyponychuim
The hyponychium is the skin underneath the free edge of your nail, near your fingertip. Wearing artificial nails and acrylics can lead to overgrown hyponychium, making it painful to trim your nails short after you remove them.
However, you must avoid picking at the skin as it can loosen your hyponychium from your nail plate, leading to infection.
Minimize Exposure to Chemical-Heavy Products
Exposing your nail beds to harsh chemicals and too much hot water can wreak havoc. We recommend you wear gloves (safety or waterproof gloves) when doing chores that involve chemicals or hot water.
Moisturize your Hands
Prolonged use of artificial nails can dehydrate your nails and make them appear dry and fragile. One of the keys to creating healthy and strong nails is to hydrate them.
So, moisturize your hands and cuticles by massaging hand cream or cuticle oil daily. Use a nail strengthener to prevent breakage and stimulate nail growth alongside moisturizing.
Allow your Nails to Breathe
If you discover your nails are in bad condition after wearing gels or acrylic manicures, you must allow them to “breathe.” Give your nails a deserved break away from artificial nail products. This gives them time to repair themselves.
How Long do Nail Beds Take to Heal After Acrylics?
The healing period varies for everyone, but typically it takes a few months for nail beds to recover fully. If they are extremely damaged, it can take 3-4 months for them to heal fully.
However, with proper care, you may see improvement within a few weeks. New nails will come back, and your nail beds will recuperate, depending on how long your nail beds are.
Another factor that affects recovery time is your treatment regime. Give your nail bed some TLC and ensure they are exposed to a healthy environment.
Plus, you have to be patient and consistent with your recovery routine. If you do, you’ll be well on your way to healthy-looking, beautiful, strong nails.
When to See a Doctor
Medical treatment usually is only sometimes needed to repair damage from acrylics unless it becomes severe. Most nail damage will repair on its own with time as your nails grow out or when you treat it with simple home remedies.
However, if the symptoms persist after a while, we advise you to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you notice unusual changes in your nail beds’ strength, color, and thickness for two to three months as the real nail grows out, get medical help ASAP. Also, if you have deep cuts on your nails or continuous bleeding, see a doctor for evaluation.
Your doctor will carry out tests such as X-rays to help determine if these persistent symptoms result from underlying medical conditions.
Your doctor can also test your nail for infection and even skin cancer if deemed fit. So you shouldn’t self-diagnose to prevent further damage.
How To Repair Damage from Acrylic Nails
If your nail bed has been damaged due to acrylics, you can still nurse them back to health. Here are 10 different options you can explore to repair them.
Keep your Nails Short
If acrylics damage your nails, we advise you to trim your nails short. Long nails can pressure your nail beds, especially if you are hands-on, making the pain more severe. Once your nail bed has been repaired, you can start growing your healthy nails again.
Ensure your nails are trimmed short and free of extensions to reduce the chances of your natural nail beds breaking easily.
Don’t Use an E-file
Electric files are power tools manicurists use to remove shine and file down acrylics. If used incorrectly, this tool can severely damage your nail plate.
If you are fixing or removing your nails at home, avoid it altogether. If you must use it, ensure it is on low speed and be careful not to file deep into your nails.
Stick to your Nail’s Natural Shape
Sticking to your nail’s natural shape when dealing with damaged nails is best. Avoid forcing your nails into new shapes during the healing process, as this only aggravates the pain.
Use Cuticle Oil for your Nails
Proper care and attention are important in treating damaged nails. However, you don’t have to break the bank to repair your nails.
One of the affordable solutions you can try is to keep your nails moisturized using cuticle oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, almond oil, or hand cream.
Keeping your cuticles and nails hydrated is essential for stimulating nail growth and preventing further damage. So, use a cotton ball to massage a small amount into your nail and cuticles daily or as needed.
Soak your Nails in Olive Oil
You can use simple home remedies to repair damage from acrylic nails, including soaking in olive oil and lemon juice. This remedy wonders in restoring hydration to your nail and warding off infections.
To begin, combine equal portions of olive oil and lemon juice. Soak your damaged nails into the mixture for 10-15 mins and rinse off with warm water. You can use this home treatment once or twice daily until your nails are healed.
Switch to Regular Nail Polish
Instead of gel polish or other nails, give your nails a rest and use regular clear nail polish. If you want manicured nails for special occasions, we advise using temporary press-on nails.
If you can’t go without your nail care regimen, stick to clear nail polish. That way, you can observe your nail growth and healing process easily.
Drinking plenty of water is beneficial for healthy nails and your overall health. When you are dehydrated, it reflects on your nails. Your nails become brittle and dry. To keep your nails from drying out and breaking, drink lots of water and use your hand cream.
Eat the Right Nutrients
Vitamins are a critical diet for healthy nails. We advise you to maintain a healthy diet and eat the right nutrients. Add foods high in protein, vitamin E, and omega-3 to help strengthen your nails.
You can also use over-the-counter medications and supplements like biotin, keratin, or collagen in addition to good nutrition.
Wait it Out
Nursing your nails back to health takes a while. During the healing period, your damaged nails need to grow out completely so they can be replaced with healthy ones.
So avoid applying any nail enhancement, at least for a few months, to prevent further damage.
Receive Professional Treatment
If your nails are too damaged for any at-home remedies, we advise you to opt for a professional keratin treatment to get much healthier nails.
It is not guaranteed to experience nail damage after a set of gel or acrylic nails. Unfortunately, as you’ve learned, many factors come to play, resulting in minor or severe injuries to your nail bed. If your nails are damaged from acrylic extensions, don’t worry!
There are plenty of options you can explore to heal them. As we’ve discussed above, by following our recommended tips, you should see great improvements.
Also, be patient with the process. With time, your natural nails will be strong and healthy again. But if the damage persists, do well to consult your healthcare provider.