One of the issues that happen to many acrylic nail wearers: their cuticles itch after they have acrylic nails done.

Cuticles itch after acrylic nails happens when oily substances like cuticle oil or hand lotion are applied on top of the cuticles too soon before all the itch-causing nail chemicals have enough time evaporate away from the skin. Brushing cuticles in warm water with soap and a soft brush will remove these chemicals and the itch will disappear.

If the itch causes too much discomfort, you can read the next paragraph on how to wash your hand to get rid of those itch-causing chemicals first.

After the cuticle itch subsides, you can go back and finish the rest of this article to learn why they make you itch in the first place.

How to stop cuticle itch after acrylic nails now

All of the chemical solutions mention above have low boiling points. This also means they will evaporate at room temperature if given enough time.

If you or your nail tech is guilty of putting cuticle oil or hand lotion before you wash your nails, you should wash your hand as soon as possible before those remaining acrylic nail chemicals have a chance to make your cuticles itch.

How to wash away a cuticle itch after acrylic nails

Use warm water: higher temperature water will make these chemicals evaporate faster than cooler one.

Use a soft nail brush: if a nail brush is not available, a toothbrush will do the job.

Soak both hands in a large plastic bowl half-filled with warm water and hand soap. Gently brush each nail around the cuticle. What this does is the tiny bristles will brush away any acrylic nail chemicals that remain on the cuticle.

The warm water will also help it evaporate away faster. Brush one nail for at least one minute using a clockwise direction for 30 seconds and counter-clockwise for the next 30 seconds.

Do the above for the rest of the nails and dry your hands with a towel.

One more thing you can do to lessen the itch even more is using a hairdryer to warm your nails. At low temperature and low speed, warm up your nails for 2 to 4 minutes each hand.

If your hand gets too warm, move it a little further from the hairdryer.

The warm air from a hairdryer will make any remaining acrylic nail chemicals evaporate away from the cuticles.

After you have done washing and drying, the itch should reduce to a tolerable level. It will take some more time or the cuticles to go back to normal.

Wait at least a day before you put any oil or lotion on the cuticles. You can apply hand lotion but take care not to let it go on the cuticles.

Why do cuticles itch the first day after acrylic nails?

Several strong chemicals are used in an acrylic nail application. Some removes either moisture or the natural protective oily layer from the cuticles, make them vulnerable so other acrylic nail chemicals will directly interact with your skin and cuticles.

Disinfecting alcohol

Alcohol is used as a disinfectant to kill most germs before an acrylic nail application. It is the first necessary step before a nail technician starts on a customer. It is also a requirement by almost all state boards of cosmetology in the US.

Alcohol does not cause cuticles to itch but what it does is a prelude to itchy cuticles. When applied directly to the cuticles and skin, alcohol will remove the moisture from them, leaving them dry. These dry cuticles will absorb any liquid chemicals that contact them.


Acetone is a chemical liquid that removes nail polish. Similar to alcohol, acetone will dry the cuticles and skin when they come in contact during a nail-polish removal step.

PH balance and dehydrator

A PH-balanced liquid will optimally prepare the nail surface so acrylics will adhere better to ensure durability.

Our cuticles and skin produce an oily, waterproof substance as an out protection layer to prevent any germs from getting through.

If applied too much, a PH-balance liquid will spread to the cuticles and removes this protective layer, leaving the cuticles dry.

A dehydrator will further remove any moisture that remains on the nails.
If these two chemical liquids are applied excessively, they will come in contact with the cuticles and surrounding skin, making them even dryer.

Instead of making two different chemicals that will require two additional applying steps, most manufacturers will combine these two chemical substances into one liquid so that one application is needed.

Acrylic primer

Acrylic primer is very acidic. A primer will etch the nail plate, meaning it alters the nail’s physical property, making it rougher so acrylics will adhere to better to creating a long-lasting set of acrylic nails.

If primer goes on the cuticles, its corrosive acidity will interact with cuticles, making them thinner until this primer gets to the living skin layers where the nerve endings are.

When this happens, you will start to feel the discomfort itch.

Acrylic liquid or monomer

Even after the cuticles are being irritated by all the above chemicals, they still have one more to deal with. It is the acrylic liquid or monomer.

These dried cuticles will absorb as much as they can all acrylic liquid available. This liquid will launch the final attack with the strongest of skin-harming properties such as skin-drying and itch-causing.

Your weakened cuticles, with all of their protection ability already stripped off, lay helpless, no longer able to defend and protect the living tissues underneath.

The itch is the sign that your body is trying to tell you that there is a foreign matter invading and is rushing in to fight back.

Your cuticles and surrounding skin are no match for this acrylic nail fight.

All in the name of artificial nail enhancements.

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