Why Do My Nails Burn When I Get Acrylics?

A burning sensation during acrylic nail application can occur for several reasons. You may apply your product to a wet primer with too much monomer, which can create a chemical reaction.

You may have a delicate or fragile nail bed that can be easily irritated once the acrylic nails are dry and in contact with the nail glue. However, a thin or frail nail plate is, by far, the most common reason for nails to burn when getting acrylics.

Allergic reactions are one of the most common problems with artificial nails. In fact, a study suggested that at least 2.4% of people develop allergies through using nail enhancements and working as nail beauticians.

As a nail enthusiast and artist, I want to create as much awareness as possible. So, in this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what’s causing your nails to burn when getting them done, who’s at risk, and how to keep your acrylics from burning so that you enjoy the beauty that artificial nails add to your overall look.

Is it Normal for Nails to Burn When Getting Acrylics?

It’s relatively common for nails to burn when you first start getting acrylics. It’s also normal to experience a tightening sensation after the application. However, as long as the sensitivity stops after 24 hours, it’s not usually considered a problem. So, while it might seem the opposite of what you should do, continue your daily chores.

Most nail products are highly toxic and contain various acidic chemicals, including acrylic polymers and Methyl methacrylate, that can cause allergic reactions and irritate your skin and thin or frail nail beds.

Once the acrylic has been laid over your natural nails and dried, it forms a firm seal. During and after this process, you may feel a tightening sensation, causing discomfort and pain to your nails.

The chemicals in acrylic nail polishes are not only strong enough to penetrate your nail’s structure but also strong enough to damage your nail bed and irritate the skin around your fingernails.

Although a nail technician can try several methods to minimize the pain, these chemicals are too strong and can spread and penetrate your nails and skin, leading to minor burning or even hurting your nail bed. While some discomfort is entirely normal, don’t ignore persistent pain that lasts beyond several days.

Remember that most allergic reactions occur immediately after your nails are exposed to the chemicals. But some can take hours or even days before the feeling goes away.

Delayed allergic reaction is usually common if you’re getting acrylic nails for the first time. If you are experiencing sensitivity and discomfort after getting acrylics, there is still a good chance it may go away, but you need to check with a professional.

How Long does an Acrylic Allergy Last?

To know you’re allergic to acrylic nails, you must be aware of the signs and symptoms.

Symptoms often include redness, itching, and flaking around the nail bed. These symptoms start within twelve hours after application and worsen after three to four days. You may experience inflammation around your fingernails and the surrounding skin. The allergic reaction slowly improves in about seven days.

It’s important to note that how long your allergic reaction lasts can be affected by several factors, including the product used, the severity of the irritation, and whether or not you tried to minimize the symptoms.

Seeking professional help is critical, especially if the symptoms are getting worse. The sooner you start treating your symptoms, the faster you’ll be able to find relief. 

Possible Causes for Acrylic Nails Burning

You are getting your favorite acrylic nails only for them to start burning immediately. It’s a frustrating experience. And you’re probably left wondering, ‘why do my nails burn when getting acrylics?’

You are experiencing a burning sensation under your fingernails for several reasons. So let’s dive into all the possibilities.

You are New to Acrylic Nails

One of the reasons why your fingernails burn when you get them done is that you are a first-timer to acrylics. Because your natural nails are not adapted to the new pressure applied by the acrylic, they react with a burning sensation. This is especially true when the acrylic comes in contact with the nail glue and dries on a thin nail bed.

If you’re getting acrylic nails for the first time and you have soft or fragile nail beds, you are more likely to experience a burning sensation.

If your nail beds are normal, the feeling will remain because the acrylics are foreign to your nails. Therefore, your nails must take time to acclimatize to this new thing applied to them.

But when acrylic is applied correctly, the burning should either go away in a few minutes or hours or not be so bad that you can’t handle it.

You are Allergic to Acrylics

Another reason you might have burning nails after getting acrylics is an allergic reaction. For example, someone sensitive to Methacrylate chemicals, a bonding agent used in artificial nail products, may experience burning, redness, and itching sensation around the nail bed that starts immediately after the acrylic is applied and lasts for several minutes or hours after the application.

Why does acrylic burn for these people and not others? The same reason some of us are allergic to specific beauty products but the rest of us aren’t.

While it’s completely normal for acrylics to burn because of how they work, all burnings are not equal, and not all acrylics actually burn for several days.

Using too much methacrylic acid primer 

Applying too much primer will saturate your nail surface and spread to the cuticles. This can be a problem if you have sensitive cuticles or thin nail beds because when the saturated primer sticks between the nail surface and acrylic, it etches the nail plate. The continuous etching of the nail plate is what causes the burning sensation during and after acrylic application.

Another chemical reaction occurs when you apply acrylic on top of a wet primer with excess monomer. Because the primer is not dry, the monomer doesn’t stick and floods to the cuticles. Again, the reaction will increase the burning sensation if you have sensitive cuticles and thin beds.

Remember that acrylic nails burning will not go away unless the primer dries completely. So, if you continue to get hot and burn for several hours after application, it means that the primer had to take that long to dry.

You have a Thin and Sensitive Nail Bed

If you have a frail nail bed, you’re more likely to experience a burning sensation when getting acrylics. This is because your nail beds are already weak, and the heat produced when nail glue reacts with the thin nails can irritate your nails and cause a burning sensation.

If you have a thin nail bed, it’s extremely important to maintain natural nails as much as possible. If you have to wear fake nails, ask your nail technician to use a medium-viscosity glue that is less abrasive on your nails. Also, ensure your nails are well prepared, and the glue doesn’t come in contact with your skin. 

You’ve Applied Thick Acrylic Nails

If you apply acrylic nails regularly, it comes to a point when thin fake nails are not attractive anymore, and you start to apply thick coats.

Whether new or a regular to acrylic nail life, you must understand the consequences of applying thick coats. When you apply thick acrylic coats, you are not only putting more stress on your natural nails but also making the product more prone to breakdown, such as lifting.

You can tell your acrylic is too thick if it’s thicker than a credit card at the free edge (approximately .03 inches). If you have applied your acrylics too thick, you can file them thinner later. Many techs usually apply too much product across your nail surface and rely on filing to thin the nails.

What should you do if your Nails Burn when Getting Acrylics?

If your nails are burning after acrylics, the acrylics may be doing more harm than good. However, remember that this is normal if you get acrylic treatment for the first time or don’t go for acrylic often. 

The burning sensation will often go away after 24 hours and with frequent application of acrylics. Unless the pain persists for several days and there is actual physical damage to your nails, there’s no reason to remove them or stop getting them.

I know a lot of clients who have stopped getting acrylic nails because of the tender and sore feeling post-manicure. So, while you are limited on things you can do to avoid sensitivity and soreness, especially if you’re new to acrylics, take note of how long it lasts.

You can also talk to your nail tech and ask if there is a way they can minimize the potential for pain. For example, they will often apply thin acrylic coats instead of thick ones.

If you wear artificial nails regularly but still get a burning sensation under acrylics, you need to seek professional help.

Let a nail technician evaluate your nails and whether or not there is a need for a change or try other alternatives. They are experts in nail techniques and will recommend the best option depending on your needs.

Why do My Nails Burn When I Get Acrylics Wrap Up

When you get acrylic nails, it’s perfectly normal for them to burn for a few hours or days. However, if the burning sensation lasts more than a few days, you are allergic to acrylics, or the nail tech didn’t do them correctly.

Whatever the reason is, you have to seek professional advice and be sure what’s causing the burning and whether or not you can continue getting these artificial nails.

It can be a frustrating experience when your acrylic burns all of a sudden, but it’s important to check all the possible reasons why it’s happening and come up with a solution. Additionally, it’s equally important to find a good acrylic nail polish that doesn’t burn and leaves your nails feeling comfortable. Or you can try acrylic nail alternatives like gel nails.

If you are looking for a good acrylic nail kit, I love the Dipwell Acrylic Dip System Starter Kit. It’s great for both beginners and advanced dippers.

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