UK government to investigate increase in gel polish-related allergic reactions

By Alessandro Carrara | Published: 17-Apr-2023

The methacrylate chemicals in gel and acrylic nails could be the reason behind the rising number of people experiencing allergic reactions

The UK government has launched an investigation into reports that gel nail products are causing users to develop life-changing allergies.

It comes after an increase in the number of people being treated by dermatologists for allergies such as skin rashes and nails loosening and falling off.

In more rare cases, some individuals have even reported breathing difficulties.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards is handling the investigation, and has urged anyone developing an allergy to report to their local trading standards department.

“All cosmetics made available in the UK must comply with strict safety laws. This includes a list of ingredients to enable consumers with allergies to identify products that may be unsuitable for them,” a statement from the government department read.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) said the methacrylate chemicals in gel and acrylic nails could be the reason for the allergic reactions.

The BAD first issued a warning about these products in 2018, following reports of a steep rise in cases of allergic skin reactions linked to the chemicals in these products.

The rising number of cases could be linked to the closure of nail salons during the pandemic, the BAD added.

This may have resulted in more people switching to at-home kits which can pose a great risk to the user due to their inexperience with the products.

‘’Many people are unaware of potential medical and dental implications if they become sensitised to nail methacrylates, said Dr Deirdre Buckley of the BAD.

“The same or very similar methacrylates are used in white dental fillings, enamel tooth coatings, orthopaedic bone cement, diabetic glucose sensors and insulin pumps.

“This can have serious consequences for future medical care.’’

The association is now recommending users and salon professionals to exercise increased caution when using the polishes.

“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,” added Buckley.

“Nail technicians are particularly at risk and should wear nitrile gloves when applying the products, changing them every 30 minutes with a no-touch technique.”

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