(Daily Mail) Dermatologists are seeing an increase in the number of people developing ‘life-changing’ allergies triggered by gel nail polishes, which can stop them having some operations like cataracts, joint replacement or dental work.
The chemicals in gel nail polishes, known as methacrylates, can cause an allergic reaction if they leak into the skin, which can see nails loosen and the skin develop a severe, itchy rash, experts warned today.
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, which is caused by the ultraviolet lamp that hardens polish not being used for long enough. 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, today urged Brits to only get a gel manicure from a fully-trained professional.
The chemicals used in gel manicures, known as methacrylates can cause nails to loosen or skin to develop a severe, itchy rash. But allergies to these chemicals are also preventing sufferers from accessing some medical treatements including cataracts removal, joint replacements or dental work, experts warned today
Dr Deirdre Buckley, a consultant dermatologist in Bath, told the BBC’s Today Programme earlier this morning there are 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,’ she said
During gel manicures, the chemicals 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
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.
If the gel is not sufficiently ‘cured’ for the correct period of time, 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,’ she said.
‘People can have trouble breathing or asthma can be worsened.’
She added: ‘Even worse than they can become sensitive to acrylates in other things, which can have implications in dentistry or if they’re diabetic or for orthopaedic surgery and it’s a lifelong sensitization.’
On occasions, those who are allergic to gel nails can also experience swollen lips, sores on fingers or red and swollen cuticles.
Dr Buckley, also of the British Association of Dermatologists, told MailOnline today: ‘Many people are unaware of potential medical and dental implications if they become sensitised to nail methacrylates.
In dentistry, it can be found in white dental fillings and enamel tooth coatings, while diabetic glucose sensors and insulin pumps also include it, she said.
‘This can have serious consequences for future medical care.’
Allergies to methacrylate, including patients sensitized to it through nail polish use, ‘has been reported to cause loosening of hip replacements’, she added.
‘Methyl methacrylate (MMA) banned in nail cosmetics in the USA and Canada but nevertheless was found in 28 per cent of salon nail cosmetic preparations in Toronto,’ she said.
The allergy could also lead to ‘facial swelling after dental work in patients sensitised by wearing gel or acrylic nails,’ she added.
‘It’s important that people are aware of the potential risks of artificial nail products, whether they are having them applied in a salon or at home.
‘Nail technicians are particularly at risk and should wear nitrile gloves when applying the products, changing them every thirty minutes with a no-touch technique.’
In recent weeks women have also taken to TikTok to share their experiences of gel nail polish allergies. One user @katieadamson5 shared images of her fingers blistering and swelling after applying gel nail polish using an ultraviolet lamp, adding ‘when you have an allergic reaction to uv gel polish. Never again’
In another video, one TikTok account detailed the flaking, swelling, itching and blistering she experienced just hours after applying gel nail polish. As a result she was forced to see an emergency care nurse to treat the allergy, she added
But experts also warned today of the dangers of some high street nail salons, if the technician is rushed or poorly trained.
In some cases, nail technicians can also rush clients out of salons when the gel is not sufficiently cured, triggering the allergic reaction.
Speaking to MailOnline today, Claire from Warwickshire, who wished to remain anonymous, said she had experienced painful allergic reactions since 2018 after visiting several different high street salons.
‘I used antihistamine after the procedure, even applied Vaseline around the nail during the procedure to no avail,’ she said.
‘No technician ever explained what what could be happening, offered any explanation or indeed refused to do the treatment.
‘Foolishly I spent over a year denying there was an issue and instead told myself beauty was pain.’
Suffering ‘red and itchy nails’, she also experienced ‘swelling and blistering’ before her fingers started ‘finally peeling painfully for weeks’.
Dr Deirdre Buckley, from the British Association of Dermatologists and a consultant dermatologist in Bath, told MailOnline today: ‘Many people are unaware of potential medical and dental implications if they become sensitised to nail methacrylates’
Her nail bed was also left ‘paper thin and fragile’, she added.
‘When the world locked down in 2020, my nails were allowed to recover as we bounced in and out of lockdowns and salons were closed’, she told MailOnline.
‘On one occasion is 2021 I persevered and had the treatment, it happened again,’ she added.
‘There definitely needs to be some investigation and education to the never ending salons that open on our high streets.’
Another who visited a professional beautician at a high street nail salon also experienced a painful allergy reaction.
She told MailOnline: ‘My friend who is also a beautician recognised that it was an allergy to the gel and advised me to stop having my nails done.’
Prescribed steroid cream by her doctor, only in recent weeks has the allergy ‘settled down’, she said.
One MailOnline reader also revealed she is currently on her third course of antibiotics after suffering ‘an awful reaction from a nail salon’.
Meanwhile others have suffered similar reactions using home DIY gel nail kits.
Shelley Dixon from Cheshire also told MailOnline she suffered an allergic reaction twice after using a kit she ordered online.
Woken up in the night ‘with itching hands and arms’. she also experienced ‘yellowish nails, peeling sore fingertips, burning and red, split skin’.
On both occasions, the reaction ‘lasted for a couple of weeks before it cleared up completely’, she added.
Former beauty therapist, Victoria Evans from Berkshire also developed a ‘severe allergy to the gel’ in 2015 after she was trained in gel application.
Working on around seven gel manicures and pedicures per day, her finger tips were initially sore and red before eventually the skin split becoming infected.
‘I still had to complete other treatments – including facials and massages – touching clients skin directly with open sores on my fingers which I didn’t feel comfortable with,’ she told MailOnline.
‘I had to be signed off work for a month to allow my skin to heal. Another therapist at the salon also had reactions but not as severe.’
After trying various treatments from her GP, she paid to see a dermatologist, who confirmed her allergy to methacrylate.
‘I still have numbness in my finger tips seven years on. Ultimately I had to leave my job as there was no safe way I could manage the allergy as gloves cannot stop the chemical,’ she said.
‘It caused me al lot of pain and stress and also financial loss.’