Acrylic nails rip the actual nails more often than you think.
For instance, you may rip the artificial and real nails if you clench your first too tightly when lifting heavy objects.
Similarly, you may damage the nails if you attempt to pull out acrylics manually.
The worst part is that ripped nails are excruciatingly painful. Moreover, the healing process can take months.
This guide explains what to do if you encounter similar problems, whether the ripped nail will grow back, and how long healthy nails take to regrow fully.
Acrylic Nail Ripped Off Real Nails
Your natural nail will grow back if the artificial nail rips it off the nail bed. However, you must be patient as nails take a long time to grow back, typically 6+ months for fingernails and 12+ months for toenails. To develop strong, healthy nails, take the best care of the injured nail during the healing process.
How Do You Know if You Have a Nail Bed Injury
An injury to the nail bed that separates the nail plate from the bed is often easy to tell. The following are a few signs to look out for;
- Intense pain: Sharp pain originating from the nail plate is the first sign of a nail bed injury. Also, why do acrylic nails hurt?
- Swelling: The skin around the nail may swell if the nail plate is torn, irritated, or damaged.
- Color change: A dark or bluish-looking nail plate is often a sign of nail bed injury. This condition is known as subungual hematoma.
- Changes to nail texture or shape: The nail plate originates from nail bed cells. Therefore, untreated nail bed injuries can affect the shape and texture of the nail plate.
- Onycholysis: This is a condition in which the nail plate separates from the bed. Injury is one of the most common causes.
- Laceration: A cut through the cuticle or the surrounding skin can point to a nail bed injury.
- Loss of function or sensation: A loss of sensation in the fingertip is a sign you should see the doctor.
- White spots: You may occasionally notice white spots on the nail, known as leukonychia. Fortunately, the spots disappear naturally once the injury heals.
- Beau’s lines: Beau’s lines are indentions that run across the fingernail. They develop at the base of the nail when nail development is ruined in the cuticle area.
Interesting article: Why are my acrylic nails lifting?
Different Types of Nail Bed Injuries and Causes
There are more than a dozen types of nail bed injuries. Nonetheless, the most common injuries are as follows;
A subungual hematoma is a medical condition characterized by bleeding under the finger or toenail.
The causes range from slamming your finger in a house or car door, hitting the finger with a heavy object, such as a hammer, and stubbing your toe on a hard surface.
Meanwhile, the symptoms include a dark-colored discoloration under all or part of the nail.
Often, the nail bed turns red, maroon, or purple-black. You may also experience swelling and tenderness in the tip of the affected finger.
Small subungual hematoma issues don’t require medical intervention. Instead, ice the area to reduce pain and swelling.
Then take over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin or Advil and wait. The problem disappears naturally after a few weeks.
However, if the area is extremely painful, the doctor might perform a decompression to drain the underlying blood vessels.
Alternatively, the healthcare provider may apply a nerve block and relieve the pressure using a needle or cautery.
Nail Bed Laceration
A laceration is a tear. Laceration of the nail typically results from injuries and sharp objects such as a knife.
Alternatively, you may get a laceration if you crush your fingers between heavy objects, destroying the finger bone.
Finally, artificial nail users may also get a laceration if the hard false nail is squeezed against the soft natural nail.
Nail lacerations are very painful. You may also notice swelling in the affected nail and bleeding if the nail bed is ripped.
Most importantly, a laceration easily invites infections. Pus and redness are tell-tale signs of an infection.
Caring for nail lacerations starts at home, though you may need to see the doctor for further observation. Begin by washing the wound with soap and clean water.
Then trim away the detached nail edges, apply pressure with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding, and apply ice to minimize the pain.
You may also dress the wound to prevent infection.
Nail Bed Avulsion
An avulsion removes part of the nail or your entire finger or toenail by chemical destruction of the nail plate.
A medical avulsion is often necessitated by complete nail destruction due to fungal infection.
Alternatively, you may require an avulsion for thickened nails due to psoriasis or chemical damage. Finally, ingrown nails almost always need an avulsion.
Most healthcare providers use 40% urea solutions for nail avulsion. It is mixed with anhydrous lanolin (20%), white petrolatum (35%), and other products.
The removal process takes several weeks to complete.
Unfortunately, nail bed avulsions can be very painful. Your doctor will recommend pain meds to minimize the suffering.
Interesting read: Can you bowl with fake nails?
What to Do When Acrylic Nail Rips Off Your Natural Nail
Addressing the pain, swelling, and bleeding are the first steps in caring for damaged nail beds.
After that, you must remove the leftover acrylic nail, trim the real nail, and care for the nail bed as you let the real nail grow back. Also, find out how nail salons take off acrylic nails.
The following is a step-by-step guide to get you through the trauma and on the path to recovery.
- Stop the Bleeding: The first thing to do if you accidentally rip your nails and nail bed is to stop the bleeding. The easiest way is by applying pressure to the affected area using a clean cloth or cotton ball.
- Contain the pain: An easy way to reduce pain in the nail area is using an ice pack. Place the icepack over the affected nail for 10-20 minutes. It numbs the underneath blood veins, reducing pain, tenderness, and swelling.
- Clean and disinfect the area: Once the pain and bleeding stop, it’s time to clean and disinfect the wound. This causes slight burning. But it’s very important. Boil a few cups of water and pour it into a basin. Then add antibacterial soap and mix thoroughly. After that, wipe the affected area gently. You can also disinfect it with hydrogen peroxide.
- Assess the Damage: This is where treatment begins. First, determine whether the nail bed and plate are damaged. If yes, you must decide whether to care for it at home or see a doctor. Also, inspect the surrounding skin. Is it swollen? Is it inflamed? Different damages require different treatment approaches.
- Cut off the lifted nail: Sometimes, bed damage causes part of the nail to lift. This condition is known as onycholysis and can invite injuries and infections. So, it’s important to trim the lifted nail to the point where it attaches to the skin. Use scissors and be careful not to damage the surrounding skin.
- Care for the affected area: You may have an open wound staring at you. You must clean it regularly to prevent infection. We recommend cleaning with warm water and soap 2-3 times daily. Then liberally apply petroleum jelly over the area to soothe the skin. Speak to your nail technician for further guidance.
- Remove the remaining acrylic nail: This can be challenging because thinners like acetone may irritate the wound. Moreover, you may introduce foreign material into the affected area. Similarly, filing away the acrylic causes a vibration that may worsen the pain. That’s why you should wait until the nail bed heals.
- Be patient as the new nail grows: A ripped nail bad redevelops in several weeks or months. So, you must be patient while continuing the nail care routines. In the meantime, stick to natural nails, avoiding harsh chemicals and artificial nail products, from gels to acrylics and nail polishes.
Now, find out the difference between acrylic and gel nails.
Do Natural Nails Grow Back if Removed?
Yes. Generally, the natural nail grows back if removed. However, this isn’t a guarantee. Instead, it depends on the severity of the damage.
If only the nail plate is damaged, it will regrow without too many issues. It may originally appear rugged and unpleasing.
However, gradually the nail redevelops into a normal, healthy one. It takes many months for the nail to regrow fully.
Unfortunately, your nail may not regrow if the nail bed is destroyed. In this case, surgery is needed to rehabilitate the bed and encourage new nail growth.
Alternatively, the doctor may install an artificial nail bed to aid new nail growth.
Finally, the nail may not grow back if the damage is extensive. Luckily, you can put on an acrylic nail.
How Long Does It Take for a Nail to Grow Back?
Unfortunately, the healing process takes a long time. For instance, complete fingernail regrowth takes 6+ months. Meanwhile, toenails can take 12-18 months to regrow fully.
The regrowth rate depends on four key factors;
- Location: Nails on the dormant hand grow faster because you use the hand more frequently. The body repairs injuries and trauma on the dormant hand faster to restore full body function sooner. The exact finger or toe also matters. For instance, little fingers and toenails grow slowest.
- Age: Unsurprisingly, your nails grow faster when you’re younger. For instance, 1980 research shows that your nails grow at 0.123 mm/day in your early twenties, slowing down to 0.095mm/day in your sixties. Scientists associate the slower growth rate with slowed blood circulation.
- Hormones: Bodily hormones such as estrogen and progestogen increase nail growth. That’s why pregnant women experience sudden rapid nail growth. Similarly, nails grow faster in puberty, the period with the most active hormonal activity.
- Your overall health: Your nails grow fastest when you’re healthy. Otherwise, you may notice stunted growth, strange-colored nails, or nail deformation. For example, psoriasis causes grooves on nails and may cause stunted nail formation. Similarly, kidney, liver, and thyroid disease affect nail growth. Damage or injuries to the nail bed can also affect nail growth.
When to See a Doctor
Your doctor will check your nails during regular visits to catch issues early.
However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you notice the following;
- Intense pain in the nails: Nail pain may point to various problems. However, it’s often due to tissue irritation or damage from injuries and trauma. Try an icepack over the affected nail and see the doctor if you notice no improvement.
- Redness and swelling: Are your fingers swollen? Is the surrounding skin inflamed and red? If so, you may have an allergic reaction or an infection. Seek immediate medical attention to unravel and treat the problem.
- Streaks or a color change: Color changes almost always indicate an underlying disease. For example, white nails indicate diabetes or cancer, while blue nails indicate limited oxygen in the bloodstream. See the doctor immediately for a full diagnosis.
- Pitting and Beau lines: You may have an underlying condition if the entire nail is covered in tiny pits and Beau lines. For instance, pitting is often a sign of psoriasis or alopecia. Again, seek immediate medical attention.
An onychectomy is a surgical procedure involving removing part of or the entire nail.
It is a safe, simple outpatient procedure performed in the doctor’s office and a common way to address ripped nail beds if the problem doesn’t improve with regular care.
Doctors also perform onychectomies to prevent infections from spreading to other parts of the hands or feet or to rectify abnormally grown nails.
The procedure only lasts a few minutes, and there’s a high success rate, with patients resuming normal activity within a few days of rest.
Most importantly, an onychectomy provides lasting relief.
How’s an Onychectomy Performed?
Onychectomies are performed under local anesthesia with the patient seated or supine. The medical staff will proceed as follows;
- Thoroughly clean the affected nails.
- Use a tourniquet to minimize bleeding.
- Make a distal cut on the nail with a surgical blade.
- Grab the nail with a forceps and extract it from the nail plate.
- Remove the remaining nail parts one at a time (to remove the whole nail).
After removing the nail, the doctor uses various techniques to treat the underlying problem.
They may also perform a matricectomy to destroy the existing nail matrix for a new nail. Most surgeons use laser acid chemicals to kill the matrix tissue.
Caring for your nails as they regrow
Post-operative care typically includes antibiotics, mild painkillers, and special nail soaks.
For instance, the doctor may recommend AmeriGel ointment to create a moist healing environment.
Nail restoration is 99% guaranteed if the patient follows post-surgery instructions and keeps the area clean and healthy.
How to Remove Acrylic When Your Real Nail is Ripped?
Removing acrylics from ripped natural nails is a delicate process. But you can do it. Here’s a brief guide;
- Water and soap
- Nail clipper
- Nail buffer
- Vaseline and moisturizer
- Glass bowl
Note: Dip each tool in disinfectant before use to prevent the spread of infections. Also, use glass bowls as metal bowls chemically react with artificial nail products.
Removing acrylics from a ripped nail: Step-by-step guide
- Prepare for the process: First, wait until the pain eases and the swelling recedes. Also, clean the nails in a glass bowl with warm water and soap, and dry them.
- Remove completely separate nail parts: Check the broken nail to determine whether some parts are completely detached. If so, gently lift off the loose parts with your fingers.
- Clip the edges of the attached nails: Gently clip away the edges of the damaged nail, taking care not to cause further damage. Ideally, you want to trim the nail to the attachment point.
- Gently soak off the remaining acrylic: This is the most delicate part, as putting acetone on an exposed nail bed can cause severe irritation. So, you must be very careful. Soak cotton balls in acetone and gently wipe the nails. Avoid soaking your hands or wrapping the cotton balls over your fingers, as it may worsen the damage.
- Repeat until all the acrylic comes off: It takes several passes to soak off acrylics. Continue wiping them with acetone-soaked cotton balls, replacing the balls after every few passes until the acrylic comes off.
- Clean the nails: Wash the leftover nails once more to remove the lingering acrylics. Then allow them to dry.
- Finish up: File the leftover nails again. Then buff them with a nail buffer and apply vaseline and cuticle oil to soothe the surrounding skin.
How to Get Nails to Reattach to the Nail Bed
Unfortunately, nail plates don’t reattach once lifted from the nail bed. So, there’s no point trying.
Instead, focus on easing the pain, containing the bleeding, and managing the nail bed to encourage new nail growth. Healthy nails naturally regrow in 6-18 months.
Can You Use Acrylic Paint as Nail Polish?
Yes, you can use acrylic paint in place of nail polish. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.
Here are a few points to consider:
Adhesion and longevity. Acrylic paint may not adhere as well to the nail surface as nail polish, and it may chip or peel off more easily. Nail polish is specifically formulated to adhere to nails and provide better longevity.
Safety concerns. Acrylic paint is not intended for use on nails and may contain ingredients that can be harmful or irritating to the skin or nails. Nail polishes are formulated with safe ingredients specifically designed for use on nails.
Flexibility. Nails are flexible and constantly in motion. Acrylic paint may not have the same flexibility as nail polish, making it more prone to cracking or flaking when the nails bend or flex.
Removal difficulties. Acrylic paint can be challenging to remove from the nails, as it is not formulated to dissolve easily with regular nail polish removers. This can result in excessive scraping or damage to the nails while trying to remove the paint.
Is Hard Gel Better than Acrylics?
When choosing between hard gel and acrylic nails, consider individual preferences and nail conditions.
Hard gel offers a more natural feel as it is lighter and more flexible. It’s ideal for those with allergies or sensitivities to acrylic products.
Additionally, hard gel can be sculpted into various shapes and is less prone to lifting or breaking. Acrylic nails tend to be more durable and longer-lasting, making them suitable for adding length and strength to natural nails.
They are also more affordable and easier to maintain with regular fills. The decision depends on personal preferences and desired outcomes.
Consulting a professional nail technician to determine the best option for each individual.
Read more: How often should you get a new set of nails?
Why Do My Nails Grow so Fast with Acrylics?
The perception of faster nail growth linked to acrylic is often due to the contrast between the visible natural nail growth and the acrylic extensions.
In reality, acrylics do not speed up nail growth. The acrylic extensions create a noticeable difference between the natural nail growth and the tip of the acrylic.
This makes it seem like the nails are growing rapidly. In truth, acrylics do not affect the rate of natural nail growth, which grows at a steady and consistent pace.
The appearance of fast growth is a result of the acrylic nail’s extension and the need for regular maintenance and fills to keep the nails looking their best.
Medical conditions, infections, and jamming your nails can leave you with ripped acrylic and natural nails. The good news is that ripped nails regrow naturally in 6-18 months.
But you must contend with severe pain and bleeding. Indeed, you may need an onychectomy to restore nail function. Seek medical attention if the symptoms persist.