Cut Fingernail Too Short – How To Stop The Pain & What To Do If You Have An Infection

Share this article:

A quick way to reduce the pain would be to dip your fingers in warm water with a lemon slice or two. Painkillers can also help if the pain is too severe. Adding a bandage or wearing a glove can help prevent infection from happening while the fingernail grows back to cover the exposed skin.

Cutting your fingernails is not something you often do. Yet I find it to be quite a relaxing and satisfying activity. I’m sure some of you know what I mean.

Most people use nail cutters specifically designed to trim your fingernails, while some prefer the old-fashioned “biting it off” method (which isn’t all that good for you).

I’m also sure that at some point, you might have nipped off a bit more than expected. So what can you do to manage the pain?

Is it possible that you’ve injured yourself despite not drawing blood? How long will the stinging feeling last? How can you stop yourself from trimming too much of your nails in the future?

Why does it hurt so much?

This is because the skin underneath your fingernails is not the same skin on your hands and body. This red skin underneath your fingernails is known as hyponychium.

Hyponychium has a very large amount of nerve endings to make sure your fingers are sensitive to touch. As a result, the nerve endings make the hyponychium very sensitive.

Typically, this doesn’t register in our brain because it’s protected by the nail, which dulls the sensitivity. But when the nail is removed, exposing the hyponychium, a lot of relative pressure is now applied on a bunch of nerve endings, leading to quite a lot of pain and irritation.

What should I do first?

The most important thing that you should do is make sure your nails and fingers remain clean. This ensures that the exposed area does not get infected by bacteria festering in the skin.

A woman is using a nail cutter to cut her fingernails
  1. First, make sure that the exposed skin is kept dry and clean. It would help if you then used an antibiotic ointment to sterilize the area around your fingernail (Which might sting and cause sharp pain).
  2. Soak your hand in a bowl of lukewarm water with a couple of lemon slices in it. Lemon will act as a disinfectant helping to prevent the spread of any infections in the exposed skin.
  3. Using cuticle oil can help relieve the pain. The moisturizing effect helps remove any irritation or itching near the fingernails.
  4. Ensure you keep the nails and fingers as dry as possible during the day. It may not be a good idea to wash dishes or expose your fingers to any chemicals or cleaning products as it may very well irritate the skin.
  5. Bandages or cleaning gloves can be used if contact with not-so-ideal substances is unavoidable.

The pain from the nails should reduce greatly within the next 48 hours, especially since the nail starts to grow back.

What should I do if I have an infection?

Paronychia is known as an infection in one of the nail folds. This happens if any bacteria manages to work its way to the exposed skin, causing an infection.

It also makes your finger swell up and may give a throbbing sensation. The pain is also much more intense than the pain from cutting your nail too short.

Using an antibiotic ointment could help if the infection is minor. However, if it does not get better or show any improvement within a day, it is very important that you visit the doctor.

They may prescribe a more potent antibiotic or drain the area if required. The worse the infection gets, the harder it is to heal, so it’s best not to wait too long.

How can I prevent this from happening again?

A woman is getting a manicure to help maintain strong and healthy fingernails

Prevention is known to be better than cure. And I’m sure we could all do without having pain in our fingers complicating our daily routines.

  1. When you’re cutting your nails, make sure you angle the clipper to be parallel to your finder and cut straight across instead of trying to round the edges.
  2. Do not bite or pick at your nails. It doesn’t look great and can cause your nail to peel off more than intended. A manicure could help ensure they look nice, hopefully preventing you from biting on them.
  3. Trim your nails to keep them short. It may vary from person to person but once a week is sufficient for most people.


While the pain from the exposed skin can be quite irritating, it is very important that you keep the fingers clean, dry, and sanitized.

An infection would make the situation much more painful and complicated. Please do see a doctor if you get an infection that does not seem to go away after a day.

And remember, it’s always better to be more careful and prevent injuries like this from happening again. It might be small, but it’s on a most used body part, making simple things very hard to do.

Share this article:

Was this article helpful?
Kavisha Rodrigo
I'm a sports person that enjoys researching into pushing the limitations of the human body. When it comes to health, I'm a big fan of working out and staying healthy. For hobbies, I'm a big fan of Pokemon and Coldplay.

We’re proud to be a team of writers who are truly passionate about all things health.

Coming together from all parts of the world, we share a common goal of helping serve many with our comprehensive research and clear writing style. Learn more.

Nutrition & Diet