Warning Over Acrylic and Gel Nails Allergy

false nails allergy

The British Association of Dermatologists has warned that a chemical found in gel and acrylic nails and varnishes could cause allergic reactions in some people.

The warning is about ‘methacrylate’ chemicals, which can cause a severe rash anywhere on the body.

Nail enhancements

Three types of nail enhancements have become particularly popular: gel nails, gel polish and acrylic nails.

Gel nails are applied over the natural nail or used as extensions. The gel needs to be hardened under a UV light. Gel polish is a type of hard-wearing nail vanish, which also needs a UV lamp to harden it.

Acrylic nails involve the application of a paste over the natural nail, which is then left the harden.

Methacrylate chemicals

A study published in the British Medical Journal has found that there is a now growing number of people who are becoming allergic to the chemicals that are used in these types of false nails and varnishes.

In an audit of almost 5,000 people in the UK and Ireland, 2.4% were found to be allergic to at least one type of methacrylate – the chemicals used in these nail enhancements. Of those with the allergy, 93% were women.

If the chemicals come in contact with the skin, someone with an allergy could have a reaction. Allergic reactions may include loosening of the nail, or a severe, red, itchy rash developing anywhere on the body.

Avoid skin contact

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) has warned that widespread exposure to methacrylate chemicals is increasing the number of people becoming allergic to them.

Sixty per cent of the people in the study who were allergic to methacrylate chemicals had developed their allergy by having nail enhancements or through the use of eyelash glue.

The BAD is calling for more training for people who work in beauty salons and for beauticians to wear protective gloves when dealing with these substances.

They advise that direct skin contact with the product should be avoided, and that people should be particularly careful if they are using home kits.

Undiagnosed allergy

Dr David Orton from the BAD said: “It is really important that people know they can develop allergies from artificial 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.”


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

Related stories:

Share this article