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Gel Nails

Dermatologists warn of ‘life-changing’ allergies triggered by gel polishes leaking into skin

Experts have recently warned of a rise in the number of people developing allergies triggered by chemicals in gel polishes, which could prevent them from having certain operations such as cataracts, dental work, and joint replacements.

Posted on 17 April 2023

The ‘life changing’ allergies can initially cause the nails to become loose and a severe, itchy rash to develop, and can affect the person’s ability to undergo specific medical procedures.

During a gel polish manicure, layers of polish are ‘cured’ (hardened) by a UV lamp on to the nail. Polishes need to be cured for a specified length of time, such as 60 or 90 seconds, otherwise there is a risk of the gel polish causing a severe allergic reaction if it leaks into the skin.

Gel polish contains chemicals known as methacrylates (a key ingredient in dental implants and bone cements used in hip and knee implants) which can trigger an allergic reaction if the polish is not sufficiently ‘cured’ and makes contact with any part of the skin.

Once this reaction occurs, the body will no longer be able to tolerate acrylates, meaning that the individual could no longer undergo any medical procedures in which methacrylates are used.

The reactions are most likely to occur by users of at-home kits or poorly-trained nail technicians. Dermatologists are urging people to only have gel polish manicures done by a trained professional.

Leigh Day product safety partner Tina Patel said:

“The increase in the number of people developing allergies to gel polishes is alarming. I would urge anyone who undergoes these treatments to always ensure they attend a trained professional to try avoid these reactions occurring.

“These cases highlight exactly why the cosmetic industry needs greater regulation to ensure all treatment providers are fully qualified experts in their field to ensure consumer safety."

Tina Patel
Consumer law Cosmetics Hips Medical devices

Tina Patel

Tina Patel is a partner in the consumer law team.

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