Are you a gel nail regular? Dermatologists are warning about an "allergy epidemic" related to the trend

Dermatologists issue warning about gel nail “allergy epidemic” [Photo: Pexels]

If you’re regularly visiting the nail salon and can’t bare the thought of removing your gel manicure, you may want to proceed with caution after a recent warning about the popular nail trend.

In the UK and Ireland, dermatologists are warning of an allergy epidemic after completing an audit. The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) analysed 13 dermatology units last year, discovering 2.4% of those tested had an allergy to at least one of the ingredients in acrylic and gel nails.

Made up of various (meth)acrylate chemicals, the key ingredients are causing “a contact allergy epidemic in the UK and Ireland,” according to BAD.

Taking the bad news to Twitter, this warning includes gel nails, acrylic nails and gel nail polish.


A separate survey found that of the 742 people attending dermatology clinics 19% had experienced adverse effects from acrylic nails applied in-salon, and 16% reacted to gel nail application.

Loved for their long-lasting qualities, gel and gel polish are hardened under a UV light while acrylic nail paste is left to harden naturally. All three styles need to be removed with acetone.

BAD reports that the adverse reactions took place when the wet chemicals came into contact with skin. Dr. David Orton of BAD believes those who are allergic to the chemicals may not even be aware their reaction is in relation to their nails.

“The truth is that there will be many women out there with these allergies who remain undiagnosed, because they may not link their symptoms to their nails, especially if the symptoms occur elsewhere on the body,” he said.

“It is important that they get a diagnosis so that they can avoid the allergen, but also because developing an allergy to these chemicals can have lifelong consequences for dental treatments and surgeries where devices containing these allergens are in common use.”

These key ingredients are also commonly used in the production of plastics, graphic production, aircraft manufacturing, orthopaedic cement and dentistry – which is all the more reason to not want (meth)acrylates on your nails.

Loosening nails and a severe itchy rash are two of the symptoms of the allergy, according to BAD. Dermatologists warn the rash symptom can appear anywhere that may come into contact with your nails. In extreme cases, breathing problems could also occur.

Dr. Orton encourages those making regular gel and acrylic nail appointments to get tested for the allergy before attending their appointment.

“It is really important that people know they can develop allergies from artificial nails.”

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