Acrylic nails can be a fun way to decorate your fingers with long-lasting manicured nails. But what happens when one breaks, causing pain, bleeding, and potential infection? This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about dealing with an infected broken acrylic nail.
We’ll explore in detail how to spot signs of infection, remove damaged acrylic safely, care for the nail bed properly, ease pain, and prevent future breakage and infections. With the right first aid and aftercare, you can get your damaged nail back to health quickly.
Table of Contents
How To Know If You Have An Infected Broken Acrylic Nail
An acrylic nail is more vulnerable to infection when the protective layer becomes compromised from cracking or breaking. But how can you tell if the broken nail has become infected? Be on the lookout for these common symptoms:
- Pain and redness – Throbbing pain around the nail bed along with redness indicates inflammation and infection.
- Swelling and warmth – The cuticle area swelling and feeling warmer to the touch points to an infected nail bed.
- Green/yellow discharge – Purulent opaque drainage from beneath the nail strongly suggests a bacterial infection.
- Foul smell – A distinctly unpleasant odor emanating from the nail raises suspicion of a fungal or microbial infection.
- Thickened nail – The nail plate thickening and becoming difficult to trim can mean an infection is brewing underneath.
- Discoloration – Yellow, black, or brown discolored nails may be infected, especially if also brittle.
- Detached from nail bed – The nail separating from the nail bed increases the risk of infection in the open space created.
If you suspect your broken acrylic nail may be infected, contact your doctor right away for proper diagnosis and treatment. Left untreated, the infection can spread and cause permanent damage.
Different Types of Nail Infections
Several common infections can occur under acrylic nails when they become damaged:
- Bacterial infections – Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of infected broken nails, leading to redness, swelling, throbbing pain, and pus-filled discharge.
- Fungal infections – Yeasts and molds can infect nails causing thickening, yellow/brown discoloration, foul odor, and detachment from the nail bed.
- Viral infections – Warts are viral infection that manifests as rough raised bumps on thickened nails, often caused by HPV.
- Yeast infections – A type of fungal infection that causes itching, burning, redness, and thick chunky discharge around nails.
- Pseudomonas infection – Caused by Pseudomonas bacteria thriving in moist areas, leads to blackening nails with foul odor.
See a doctor at the first signs of infection for proper diagnosis and prompt treatment. Delaying allows the infection to worsen.
Treating an Infected Broken Acrylic Nail
If diagnosed with an infected acrylic nail, treatment will involve:
Removing the Broken Acrylic
- The damaged acrylic needs to be fully removed to expose the infected nail bed and treat it.
- Avoid pulling off acrylic, rather file gently to loosen and use pre-wrap and antiseptic soak to lift intact.
- Seek professional help for safe removal to avoid tearing or further traumatizing the nail bed.
Treating the Infected Nail Bed
- Your doctor will prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to clear bacterial infections.
- Antifungal medications are used for fungal infections.
- Keep the bare nail trimmed short during recovery to allow air circulation.
- Apply antibacterial ointment to the nail bed as directed.
- Avoid re-applying acrylics until the nail infection has fully resolved.
- Strictly adhere to salon sterilization protocols during manicures.
- Never pick at nails or cuticles which can introduce bacteria.
- Thoroughly dry hands and nails after washing to avoid fungus and yeast overgrowth.
- Schedule acrylic fills regularly to avoid lifting or cracking which breeds infections.
What To Do With A Broken Acrylic Nail Breaks and Bleeds?
If an acrylic nail breaks and exposes or tears the delicate nail bed underneath, causing bleeding:
- Rinse the area gently with water to flush out dirt and debris. Avoid harsh scrubbing.
- Apply firm pressure with a clean cloth or cotton pad to stop bleeding. Keep the pressure for 5-10 minutes.
- Wash hands with antibacterial soap, pat dry, and apply antibiotic ointment over the torn nail bed to prevent infection.
- Cover with a sterile bandage or adhesive bandage changed daily.
- Seek prompt medical care if bleeding is excessive or doesn’t stop with pressure.
Any tear in the nail bed provides an easy gateway for infection, so be vigilant about proper first aid followed by seeing a doctor right away.
Why Is My Nail Throbbing Under Acrylic?
A throbbing sensation under an acrylic nail is primarily caused by:
- Infection – Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections cause inflammation and throbbing pain in the nail bed. Redness, warmth, and discharge may also be present.
- Hematoma – Bleeding under the nail after a trauma like a slam or crush injury causes a painful pulsating hematoma.
- Allergic reaction – Acrylic ingredients or fumes can trigger a painful allergic reaction with throbbing and swelling around the cuticle.
- Overgrown cuticle – Having the cuticle pushed back too far can expose sensitive nail bed tissue and cause discomfort.
See a doctor to determine the cause and get appropriate treatment. Trying to remove the acrylic or waiting for it to heal on its own will prolong pain and risk complications.
How To Prevent Broken Nails Under Acrylic Nails
To avoid cracks and breaks in acrylic nails:
- Use thin acrylic layers – Thick acrylic is rigid and inflexible causing cracks. Multiple thinner coats are stronger.
- Avoid excessive length – The longer the nail, the more prone to snapping and splitting when caught on things. Keep shorter.
- Apply moisturizer – Keeping cuticles nourished with oil-rich moisturizer prevents cracking where the nail meets the skin.
- Wear gloves for chores – Protect nails from bumps, scrapes, and chemical exposure during housework and cleaning.
- Use a nail strengthener – Painting a layer of nail hardener under acrylic helps reinforce the nail plate.
Preventing Infection Under Acrylic Nails
To minimize infection risks with acrylic nails:
- Verify the salon properly disinfects tools, surfaces, and basins between clients.
- Have your manicure kit used only for you to prevent bacteria from spreading.
- Avoid touching acrylic nails and then immediately touching eyes, mouth, and wounds which can transfer germs.
- Never share nail tools or files that spread bacteria. Always use sterile disposable wooden files and buffers.
- Sanitize hands before and after nail appointments using anti-microbial hand gel.
- Keep acrylics maintained. Have fills done regularly to avoid lifting or cracks that breed infections.
Broken Nail Under Acrylic: Steps to Take
What should you do if your natural nail breaks underneath the acrylic? Follow these steps:
If the Break is Near the Tip
- Trim any jagged edges using sterile nail clippers. File gently.
- Apply an antiseptic like tea tree oil to the exposed nail bed to prevent infection.
- Cover with adhesive bandage changed daily. Avoid getting wet.
- Make a salon appointment as soon as possible for acrylic repair.
If the Break Extends Far Down the Nail
- Do not try prying off the acrylic which will tear the nail bed.
- Soak cotton in non-acetone remover to gently loosen acrylic from the nail plate. Never pull.
- Seek professional removal help to avoid ripping off the nail plate. This causes lasting damage.
- Treat the exposed nail bed with antibiotic ointment and sterile dressings until it can be repaired.
No matter how severe the natural nail breakage, never forcibly pull off acrylics yourself. Seek professional help for safe removal to avoid trauma and enable proper treatment.
How Long Does a Ripped Nail Take To Heal?
If the nail bed is torn or ripped when acrylics crack or lift off, healing can take:
- 2-4 weeks for small surface tears – Treating the exposed nail bed while the nail plate re-grows protects from infection. Use topical ointments and dressings.
- 2-3 months if the nail plate detaches – Losing the entire nail requires the nail bed to regenerate an entire new nail. Keep the area bandaged and avoid water exposure. See a doctor.
- Longer with injury to nail matrix – If the base from which the nail grows is damaged, healing is prolonged and the new nail may be misshapen. These injuries need medical care.
See a dermatologist for evaluation if the nail bed is severely torn or the nail plate becomes entirely detached from the finger. Proper treatment prevents lasting damage.
Can You Put Acrylic on Broken Nails?
It’s best not to put an acrylic on top of a broken nail:
- The acrylic will likely not adhere properly to the uneven surface of a cracked nail.
- It can cause lifting that worsens the crack and increases the risk of the natural nail breaking.
- Fluid and debris under the acrylic can lead to bacterial and fungal infections.
- Applying acrylic to the exposed nail bed will cause extreme pain and inflammation.
Instead, see a professional for proper assessment and repair to avoid complications. Never apply acrylic to broken skin or an exposed nail bed.
How Long Does It Take for The Damaged Nail to Heal After Removing the Cracked Acrylic?
On average, it takes:
- 1-2 weeks for the exposed nail bed to heal after removing broken acrylic if no tearing occurred. Keep the area bandaged and moisturize the cuticles.
- 2-3 weeks for a cracked natural nail plate to grow out fully after removing damaged acrylic. Don’t dig into the cracks which slows healing.
- 2-3 months to regrow a new nail if the entire natural nail detached with the acrylic. New nails will initially be thinner and more flexible.
See a dermatologist if the nail bed doesn’t heal within 2 weeks to rule out remaining infection or extensive injury requiring intervention to avoid permanent deformity.
Can I Still Get Acrylics After an Infection?
You can get acrylic nails again after an infection if:
- The infection has fully resolved with treatment.
- The nail and cuticle have completely healed with no remaining redness, swelling, or tenderness.
- You maintain excellent hygiene and nail care between salon visits.
However, those prone to infections may need to avoid overlays like acrylics and gels permanently. Discuss risks and benefits with your dermatologist.
While broken or infected acrylic nails cause distress, prompt first aid followed by medical care allows the nail to safely heal without lasting damage. Never try removing acrylics yourself and avoid applying acrylic over broken nails. With vigilance for symptoms and proper hygiene, you can keep your acrylic nail service infection-free.