Allergic to Gel Nail Polish? Here’s How to Find Relief and Heal

nails, makeup, manicure
Table of Contents

An allergic reaction to gel nail polish can be an uncomfortable and distressing experience. However, with the right knowledge and treatment approach, it’s possible to manage and even prevent such reactions. In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into understanding these reactions, their causes, symptoms, and most importantly, how to treat an allergic reaction to gel nail polish.

Understanding Allergic Reactions to Gel Nail Polish

Allergic reactions to gel nail polish, although relatively rare, can happen due to various ingredients in the product. Typically, these reactions are a result of specific chemicals, allergens, or irritants in the nail polish that the body perceives as harmful, triggering an immune response. This response manifests as an allergic reaction, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. It can also happen due to the exposure to the UV nail lamp.

What Triggers an Allergic Reaction?

There are several potential triggers for an allergic reaction to gel nail polish. These can be broadly categorized into four key groups:

  • Environmental Factors: Factors like pollen or pet dander can also contribute to an allergic reaction if they find their way onto your nails after applying polish
  • Chemical Sensitivities: Certain individuals may have a heightened sensitivity to specific chemicals found in beauty products. This sensitivity can trigger an allergic reaction when the body reacts to these chemicals by releasing histamines, leading to discomfort and inflammation
  • Immune System Response: An allergic reaction can occur when the body’s immune system perceives a substance as harmful and mounts a defense. This reaction can cause symptoms like redness, itching, hives, and swelling at the site of contact
  • Allergen Sensitivities: Some people have a natural sensitivity to certain allergens, which can lead to allergic reactions. In the case of gel nail polish, ingredients like formaldehyde resin, paraben preservatives, and gluten-containing compounds can act as allergens

Understanding these triggers is crucial in not only treating but also preventing future allergic reactions to gel nail polish. As we said before, the UV lamp can certainly trigger skin irritation.

Identifying Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

Recognizing the signs of an allergic reaction to gel nail polish is crucial for timely intervention. Common symptoms include:

  • Dark Spots on Nails: Dark spots on your nails may also indicate an allergic reaction
  • Hives or Rash: In some cases, hives or a rash may develop at the site of skin contact with the allergen, often accompanied by raised welts that are usually red or pink
  • Itching and Burning: These symptoms may manifest as an uncomfortable burning sensation, itching, or contact dermatitis, which could last several days
  • Redness and Swelling: One of the first signs of an allergic reaction is reddening skin around the manicure or swelling under the nail tip

Symptoms can vary in severity and duration, and if you notice any of these signs after getting nail art done, it’s essential to stop using the product and seek medical advice.

The Impact of Allergic Reaction on Health

While allergic reactions to gel nail polish are relatively rare, they should not be taken lightly. If left untreated, these nail allergy reactions could result in more severe health complications. Although they’re not usually dangerous if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, it’s crucial to seek medical intervention if symptoms persist or worsen.

Immediate Actions: Removing Gel Nail Polish Safely

Should you, or a client, have an allergic reaction to gel manicure, the first course of action should be to remove the polish safely. This process involves the use of acetone, a powerful solvent that can break the bond between the polish and the nail. Soak cotton balls in acetone-based remover or pure acetone, press them onto each finger for about 10 minutes until the polish softens and lifts away easily.

If the polish proves stubborn, seeking professional help is advisable. Nail salon professionals are equipped with the necessary tools and expertise to remove the gel manicure without causing further skin irritation.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Knowing when to seek medical attention is critical when dealing with an allergic reaction to gel nail polish. Some signs that necessitate immediate medical attention include:

  1. Difficulty breathing or tightness in your chest
  2. Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, and/or throat
  3. Severe hives or itchy welts on your skin
  4. Fainting or dizziness
  5. Nausea and vomiting

In the presence of these symptoms, consulting a physician is crucial as they may require medical treatment. In rare cases, you might suffer from allergic contact dermatitis due to UV exposure. Some allergic reactions can be life-threatening if left untreated, making it essential to take any unusual reactions seriously.

Identifying the Allergen Through Skin Testing

Skin testing, or patch testing, is a reliable method for identifying the allergen causing the allergic reaction to gel nail product. The process involves the application of small amounts of different substances on the skin, monitored over several days for any reactions. This testing can help pinpoint the allergen, enabling you to avoid contact with that particular substance in the future.

The testing process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Gel Nail Polish: Apply a small amount onto the arm and monitor for 72 hours.
  2. Fragrances: Place patches containing potential allergens on the back and observe every 24 hours.
  3. Preservatives: Apply potential allergens on the forearm and check closely after 48 hours.

How to Avoid Future Allergic Reactions

Preventing future allergic reactions involves several steps:

  1. Read Labels: Always read the labels of gel nail polishes before making a purchase. Look for any known allergens and opt for ‘allergy-free’ products where possible.
  2. Avoid Cross-contamination: Be aware of cross-contamination from shared tools during application. Ensure fresh brushes and applicators are used every time.
  3. Perform Patch Tests: Conduct patch tests when trying a new product or formula. Apply a small amount to a patch of skin and observe for any reactions over 24 hours before proceeding with a full manicure session.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

Several over-the-counter treatments can help alleviate symptoms of an allergic reaction to gel nail polish. These include:

  1. Anti-allergy Medications: Medications like Claritin or Zyrtec can block histamines from entering the body, providing quick relief from allergy symptoms.
  2. Topical Creams: Creams containing hydrocortisone can reduce swelling and itching associated with allergies.
  3. Oral Anti-inflammatories: In severe cases, oral anti-inflammatories


Share this post
You Might Also Like: