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I have noticed a few times after I paint my nails, my face will get itchy when I touch it with my hands. My eyes will sometimes get a little puffy and itchy after I rub them. The polish will be dry and this usually happens within an hour of painting them. Could I be allergic to my polish?

Yes, you could have an allergy to your nail polish. Allergic reactions can occur to nail polish containing methacrylate or acrylics. These are allergic contact reactions, typically limited to the hands, fingers, or wrists. In addition, facial, eyelid, and neck dermatitis can occur where the fingers and hands touched these areas. The reaction to the allergen in acrylic can appear as redness, swelling, and blistering of the skin surrounding the nail. Sometimes the nail will burn and then separate or lift off the nail bed. Other symptoms include dry bumpy skin and nail discoloration.

If an allergy is suspected, remove the polish immediately. Treat the affected area with an over-the-counter cortisone cream. The should symptoms disappear once the acrylic nail polish is removed and discontinued. This can take one to three days.

Gel nail extensions that do not contain acrylics can be a safe alternative. This is because they do not contain acrylics. Patch skin testing can be done by an allergist to confirm or rule out the diagnosis of acrylic allergy. If you have signs and symptoms of an allergy to your nail polish, I encourage you to consult with an allergy specialist.

Allergy, Symptoms
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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