How to know if your acrylic nails are detaching? (+3 facts)

This article will tell about the observations made during acrylic nail detachment. We will also discuss different factors that may cause acrylic nails to come off.

How to know if your acrylic nails are detaching?

If you notice the lifting or gap between the acrylic nails from the nail bed, it means your acrylic nails are coming off. The base of the nail bed may become evident due to the formed gap. You may also observe rough edges or jagged corners on the artificial nails. 

You may experience pain or difficulty in performing daily activities, applying nail polish or acrylic nail filing. The loosened acrylic nail may wiggle when touched, causing visible breakage and cracks in the acrylics.

The nail bed may become sensitive and change its appearance, colour and texture. If acrylic nails are not completely removed when coming off, they may cause fungal infection in the nail bed due to water entrapment and moisture accumulation. 

What factors contribute to acrylic nail detachment?

Many factors may cause acrylic nails to come off. Most of them are concerned with the improper application of acrylics on the nail bed. However, oily nails and nail infections may cause an early fall.

  • Improper application

Improper nail preparation, including cleansing and filling, may cause the detachment of acrylic nails from the nail bed. Poor-quality primer (adhesive) often loosens the acrylic nails from the nail bed. Acrylic nails require the filling of adhesive primer every two weeks.

If you wait any longer, the acrylic nail may start to chip or break away from the nail bed. However, primers may cause nail irritation, itchiness and infection. An infection in the cuticles is the most prevalent cause of acrylic nail peeling.

Prolonged use of hot or warm water may loosen the acrylic nail from the nail bed. Soaking acrylic nails in hot water for 10-15 minutes makes them soft and pliable. A little jerk or pressure from the objects may cause acrylic nail detachment. 

If you have oily nails, it may cause early detachment of the acrylic nails. Oily components on the nail and nail bed are hypothesized to work as occlusive nail moisturisers whilst delaying water evaporation (1).

The application of acrylic nails on shorter natural nails does not provide enough ground for the acrylic nails to stick on. Alternatively, longer nails may cause early breakage of the acrylic nails.

  • Nail infection and other diseases

Nail infection may occur due to the gaps made between acrylic nails and the nail bed. Infected nails appear yellow or darker in colour and may emit an unpleasant odour. The infection causes softening of the nail plate due to which the nail bed is unable to hold the weight of the acrylics.

Allergic reactions to primer or acrylics may last 2-4 months. It is more common in females who apply the acrylics for the first time. Itchiness and paronychia (excruciating pain) in the nail area is the early symptom of an allergic reaction.

The allergic reaction may cause dryness and thickening of the nail bed. However, the nail plate becomes thin and splits easily. The natural nail is rarely lost completely, and the nail regains its original shape after a few months (2, 3).

Acrylic nails may cause traumatic onycholysis when the extension pulls the nail plate away from the bed during detachment (4). Acrylic nails also inhibit water evaporation from the nail, which makes the nail bed to become too hydrated and increases the likelihood of detachment (5).

How to prevent acrylic nails from coming off?

Always select a professional, hygienic, and famous saloon for the application of acrylic nails. It is recommended to use a high-quality acrylic nail instead of cheap and low-quality acrylics. Include biotin, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, zinc and iron in your diet to improve nail strength.

Make sure your natural nails are properly filed and clipped to an appropriate length before the application. Do not soak your acrylic nails in warm water for a prolonged time. In case of cold or tepid water, avoid soaking the nails for more than 1 hour.

  • Medication

If the detachment of acrylic nail cause paronychia, consult your dermatologist immediately. The dermatologist may prescribe acetaminophen for the symptomatic relief of pain. Mild bacterial infection may be treated with gentamicin and Neosporin.

In case of severe infection, clindamycin and Augmentin may be prescribed. Often topical corticosteroids, such as betamethasone, are prescribed with topical antibiotics to treat paronychia. It is important to check the expiry of medication, especially betamethasone, as it may increase redness and itching

Although I have never worn acrylic nails, I have seen females struggling with the maintenance and care of the acrylics. Medical professionals should avoid wearing acrylic nails as they may carry various pathogens and spread the infection to other people.

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Baran R. Nail cosmetics: allergies and irritations. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. 2002 Dec;3:547-55.


Fisher AA, Franks A, Glick H. Allergic sensitization of the skin and nails to acrylic plastic nails. Journal of Allergy. 1957 Jan 1;28(1):84-8.


Baran R, André J. Side effects of nail cosmetics. Journal of cosmetic dermatology. 2005 Sep;4(3):204-9.


Dinani N, George S. Nail cosmetics: a dermatological perspective. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology. 2019 Aug 1;44(6):599-605.


Baran R. Nail beauty therapy: an attractive enhancement or a potential hazard?. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2002 Jan;1(1):24-9.