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Home nail kits & undercured product has led to an ‘allergy epidemic’

By Scratch Staff | 09 August 2018 | Movers & Shakers, News

Nail Lamp (1)

The British Association of Dermatologists has issued a warning that (meth)acrylate chemicals, found in acrylic, gel and gel polish systems, are causing ‘a contact allergy epidemic’ in the UK and Ireland.

Their concerns are based on a European study that has found that 2.4% of people tested had an allergy to at least one type of (meth)acrylate chemical.

The reactions were prevalent when there is overexposure; where the uncured products come into contact with any part of the skin. Research found this to be most likely to occur when people apply a product themselves, or if the nail technician has insufficient training. Dermatologists are urging the public to be particularly wary of gel and gel polish home kits, where insufficient curing can also increase the risk of an individual developing an allergy.

Allergic reactions may involve the nails loosening or a severe red, itchy rash which may occur anywhere on the body that has come into contact with the nails, including the eyelids, face, neck and genital region. Very rarely, symptoms such as breathing problems can occur.

As (meth)acrylates are not routinely included in allergy assessments, known as patch tests, the rate of allergy has largely remained under the radar. There are now calls for this to change.

A separate survey run by the British Association of Dermatologists (with the help of Stylfile from Apprentice Winner Tom Pellereau and Lord Sugar) assessed 742 people that attended dermatology clinics. It found that 26% of people were applying nail enhancements at home, with 11% stating they found the kit instructions inadequate.

Dr David Orton of the British Association of Dermatologists, comments: “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.

“Salon owners need to consider the level of training they offer staff in this area as there is a genuine occupational hazard that should be mitigated. An important precaution is to use nitrile gloves which are replaced and disposed of every 30 minutes and removed with a ‘no touch’ technique. (Meth)acrylates should be kept away from all direct skin contact. The training also needs to reduce the chances of initiating an allergy in their clients.”

Dr Deirdre Buckley, president of the British Society of Cutaneous Allergy, adds: “Allergy to (meth)acrylates has the potential to behave like many of the other significant contact allergy epidemics that have occurred in the last few decades. Although the rate of allergy to (meth)acrylates is continuing to increase, many doctors are unaware of the issue, and these chemicals are not routinely included in patch tests. We are now recommending that all dermatologists patch test to (meth)acrylates routinely.

“We would particularly urge people to be careful when using home kits. If you do use one, make sure that you use the recommended UV lamp for curing, and read the instructions carefully. Using the wrong lamp may mean that the gel polish does not cure properly, and this means an increased chance of allergy. Avoid any direct skin contact with the (meth)acrylate nail product.”

To view the full report, visit

*Key results found in an audit of 13 UK and Irish dermatology units during 2017*.