Can you be allergic to gel manicures?

The short answer is yes. The British Association of Dermatologists have recently reported on what they call an “allergy epidemic” resulting from exposure to a methacrylate – a chemical that is commonly used in gel polish, gel nails and acrylic nails. A major challenge with this rising allergen is that those experiencing allergic reactions do not always realize that their reaction results from a chemical on their nails because the symptoms can occur all over the body.

What happens when the allergy occurs is that the methacrylate comes into contact with the skin before it is dried or hardened by a UV light. Once this exposure occurs, nails may loosen, but severe red and itchy rashes can also occur, and these can pop up anywhere on the body. The rashes are commonly found on the eyelids, face, neck and genitals. Respiratory difficulties can even occur in the most severe cases.

It is important that people who are allergic to methacrylate identify the cause of their allergies so that they can avoid the allergen in the future. Unfortunately, gel polish and gel and acrylic nails are not the only places where methacrylate is found. They are used in acrylic plastic production and are found in devices, orthopedic cement and dressings used in surgeries and dental treatments.

According go the British Association of Dermatologists, approximately 2.4 percent of people tested are allergic to at least one type of methacrylate, and those who apply gel or acrylic nails or gel polish at home or who work in the beauty industry are at enhanced risk for methacrylate allergies. Recognizing that you are at risk for methacrylate allergies can help you identify the trigger if you do experience an allergic reaction.

Author
Dr. Summit Shah

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