August 16, 2018

Do You Have an Allergy to Gel Nails?

Gel and acrylic manicures and other forms of nail art have been quite trendy over the past few years. However, there are some health risks associated with artificial nails.


LED and UVA nail lamps that are used to cure gel manicures produce ultraviolet rays that can cause a long-term damage to your skin. Therefore, experts recommend applying sunscreen to the skin before exposing it to the UV light.

In addition, poor removal methods may also lead to nail or skin damage. Thinning, breaking or peeling of the nails are common problems among those who use gel or acrylic manicures, as well as discolored nails. This may be because of the acetone, filing, or the chemicals found in the product itself. In addition, nails can loosen, but it’s very rare.

Some gel nail users may also develop infections and fungus.

What is more, skin experts warn that gel or acrylic nails and gel polish may trigger allergic reactions, such as contact dermatitis, in some people.

What Causes an Allergic Reaction to Gel Nails?


The reactions are caused by the chemicals you are exposed to during the process of manicure process.

Chemicals like methacrylate, acrylate oligomers, and monomers are commonly found in gel and acrylic and gel polish. According to dermatologists, exposure to methacrylate chemicals can lead to a severe, itchy rash on the fingertips or anywhere on the body.

Some polishes and hardeners may contain toxic tosylamide or formaldehyde resins and toluene.

Direct exposure to the chemicals can trigger a reaction anywhere on the body, including the face, neck, and even genital area.

Allergic reactions to chemicals in gel manicure products are more likely to develop when the procedure is performed by untrained technicians or if it’s done at home.

The risk of an allergic reaction may increase, if your manicurist rushes through the service, if your gel nails are not cured (hardened) well, if an applied coat of polish or gel is too thick and difficult to dry, or if the salon’s nail lamp doesn’t work properly.

If you decide to get yourself a gel manicure, dermatologists recommend that you find a qualified and trained specialist.

If you are using a home kit, make sure to follow all the instructions and use a proper UV lamp. If you use the wrong lamp, the gel polish will not harden properly, which may lead to an allergic reaction.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction to gel manicure may include redness, swelling, and blistering of the skin around the nail. It is also possible to develop a psoriasis reaction (dry, scaly patches) in the nail bed. However, the reaction may also affect other parts of the body, which makes it difficult to identify the cause. For example, you may experience a rash, swelling, or itching around your eyelids, lips, arms, neck, chest or anywhere else on your body.

In rare cases, breathing problems may occur.

According to a study conducted in 2017 in the UK, at least 2.4 percent of gel nail users were affected by an allergy to gel chemicals. Most of the patients with allergies were women who developed the symptoms after exposure to nail or eyelash glue. Around 30 percent of them were working as nail beauticians.

Who Is at Risk for an Allergy to Gel Nails?


Allergies associated with nail art are more likely to affect nail technicians who use nail-related products regularly. Dermatologists say that this is because the allergic reaction develops after repeated exposure to small amounts of the allergens over a long period. This means that customers who get their nails done a couple times a month are at a lower risk for an allergy.

According to experts, beauticians and people working with nail-related products should wear special protection to prevent direct skin contact. Nitrile gloves are commonly used for this purpose.

When it comes to salon owners, they can reduce the level of occupational hazard by providing their staff with proper training.

Some experts believe that allergy to methacrylates can be considered a significant contact allergy epidemic.

To reduce the risk of a reactions, avoid direct exposure to the methacrylate-containing nail products.

How to Get a Diagnosis?


Experts believe that it’s important to know about the risks of allergies triggered by gel or acrylic nails.

It is likely that many women with these allergies don’t even know about the real cause of their symptoms. It may be hard to link the allergy symptoms to the nails, especially if the reaction affects other parts of the body.

If you experience any abnormal symptoms after getting gel manicure, contact your doctor. You should get a proper diagnosis before using any self-treatment. If you know the cause of your symptoms, you can avoid it to prevent the reaction.

Besides, an allergy to methacrylate chemicals may lead to other consequences in long term. Thus, you may develop allergies during dental treatments and surgeries, as the devices used in these procedures often contain such allergens.

Not all types of reactions to chemicals are related to allergies. In most cases, people develop a skin irritation. Irritation is more likely to occur if the skin is exposed to excessive amounts of a certain chemical. Such a reaction usually develops with a few minutes or hours after you have your nails done. The irritated skin usually gets better, when you soak the gel off. However, if the reaction is severe, you may need to consult your dermatologist.

If you are not sure whether you have an allergic reaction or irritation, talk to your dermatologist. The doctor may suggest that you perform a patch test. This test involves applying a required amount of the potential allergen on your back. After a few days, your doctor will check the affected area. In case of an allergy, you will need to avoid the allergy-triggering chemical.

Fortunately, today’s market offers various nail polishes that are free of most harmful chemicals. However, if you are allergic to chemicals contained in gel or gel polish, you will likely need to avoid gel manicure at all.

Share this: