Alas, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was blogging about how much I loved my gel nails.
Unfortunately I have since discovered that they do not love me in return 🙁 .
I started DIY-ing my own gel nails a couple of years ago, buying my own polishes, UV LED nail lamp, manicure tools etc. Not only was it more cost effective than going to a salon, I just didn’t have the patience or the time to sit around while somebody else did them!
I was thrilled – for the first time EVER my own nails were actually growing long and looked amazing. Using gel nail polish made me feel, well, more polished in appearance 😉 .
Of course I’d read the instructions: Please discontinue use if you have a reaction to this product … but after using it a few times I thought all was fine!
First Signs of My Gel Polish Reaction
But then I began to notice that for a couple of days after a manicure, the skin around my nails was tender, red and even started peeling. Weird!
At first I thought maybe I’d been leaving my nails under the UV light to cure them for too long, so I was a lot more careful with the timing. (I’ve always worn a pair of white cotton gloves – with the tips cut off – while doing a manicure to protect the rest of my skin from the UV light).
It didn’t help.
In fact, each time I applied my gel nail polish, my symptoms got slightly worse.
As time went by, I also noticed that my nails were starting to lift away from the nail bed at the tip. My nails never looked clean underneath and the skin seemed to have thickened – all of which I now know is another sign of having a reaction to the polish.
But I still didn’t want to kiss my beautiful nails goodbye.
About four weeks ago – after I’d done my nails – I realised I had to stop.
A mysterious rash had appeared along one of my arms, and in a couple of patches on my waist. It wasn’t painful, but it was a bit itchy and looked terrible.
I remembered that I’d accidentally got a bit of polish on the underside of that arm while doing my nails, and had wiped it off, thinking no more of it.
It couldn’t be a coincidence – could it?
But what about the rash on my torso?
A little bit of research and it turns out that I was indeed experiencing an allergic reaction to gel nail polish.
Apply Gel Nail Polish with Caution
A quick check of the photos of some of my previous manicures and I quickly realised that the problem had probably developed due to my inexpert application.
When painted on thickly, the polish doesn’t cure correctly, resulting in bubbling and peeling polish. It also means that the chemicals (acrylates) can cause problems, as it’s only when cured properly that the acrylates are rendered inert.
I’d also never used cuticle oil, which helps to protect the delicate skin around the edges of the nails.
Further reading revealed that an allergic reaction to gel nail polish doesn’t just affect the area around the nails. In addition to flaring up on skin exposed to direct contact, it can also cause a rash to develop in random places on their body.
It’s common knowledge that our skin is like an absorbent sponge. In some case this is used for good – for example, women putting wild yam cream on their wrists to alleviate menopause symptoms. However the downside is that it can also allow toxins to enter our bloodstream if we are not careful. I can’t help wondering, for this allergic reaction to gel polish to occur, if our nail plate can absorb the chemical, which is then absorbed by the skin and into our bodies?
The Solution (For Me, Anyway)
I’ve made the hard decision to get rid of all my gel polishes and go back to “nails au natural”.
Treatment for an allergic reaction to gel nail polish is removing the culprit (done). Mine was only a mild case, so I didn’t need to take antihistamines or seek medical advice.
My rashes are settling down, although my nails still look terrible. Unfortunately I have an advanced case of onycholysis (where the tips of my nails have lifted away from the nail bed), though this will eventually grow out.
I’ve learned a lot from my experience. The adverse reaction may have been triggered by my inexpert application, but now I realise how damaging these chemicals are, I’m not sure I want to use them again.
Now I just have to convince myself that short but healthy looking nails are a much better option than polished and professional. For me, anyway!
Have you ever had a reaction to gel polish?!