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The hidden danger of GEL NAILS: Experts warn of rise in ‘life-changing’ allergies triggered by gel polishes leaking into the skin


Dermatologists are seeing an increase in the number of people developing ‘life-changing’ allergies triggered by gel nail polishes leaking into the skin.

The chemicals in gel nail polishes, known as methacrylates, can trigger an allergic reaction if they leak into the skin, which can see nails loosen and the skin develop a severe, itchy rash, experts have warned.

Those who suffer this reaction are then unable to tolerate being exposed to the chemical, which is used in routine procedures such as fillings and hip replacements.

At-home gel manicures are the most likely culprit for triggering the painful reaction but even salon nail treatments can pose a risk if the technician is poorly-trained.

Dermatologists, who warn that cases of the reaction are on the rise, urged Brits to only get a gel manicure from a fully-trained professional.

Methacrylate is a key ingredient in bone cements, which is used to stabilize hip and knee implants or as a bone filler during joint replacement operations.  In dentistry, it is also used for dental casts and implants.

But during gel manicures, the chemicals can enter the skin when the ultraviolet lamps used to harden each layer of gel, are not used for long enough or the equipment is poorly maintained.

Gel nail polish


If the gel is not sufficiently ‘cured’ a reaction to the chemicals can occur on the skin around the nails.

Each gel polish brand has an exact curing time which should be adhered to, often either 30 seconds, 60 seconds or 90 seconds.

Yet simply brushing your nails against your arms or touching your face can produce symptoms in those areas.

Once sensitized, the body will no longer tolerate acrylates, meaning anyone with an allergy cannot have medical procedures in which methacrylates are used.

Although reactions are worse when people use at-home kits, even professionally applied acrylic and gel nails can cause reactions if technicians are poorly trained, experts have warned.

Dr Deirdre Buckley, a consultant dermatologist in Bath, told the BBC’s Today Programme earlier this morning that people could experience a number of symptoms.

‘It can range from the nails loosening to falling off, it can include a severe rash on the face, the neck, the upper chest. People can have trouble breathing or asthma can be worsened.’


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