Allergy Awareness for Nail Technicians

As a professional nail technician, you work with various products and chemicals daily, and some of them can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. In this educational post, we'll discuss allergies, their symptoms, and ways to prevent them.

Firstly why do allergies happen?

Allergies occur when the body's immune system overreacts to certain substances known as allergens, which can come from food, animals, plants, or chemicals found in gel polishes and Builder Gel.

In our industry, gel polish or Builder Gel allergies typically present themselves as red, bumpy, scaly, itchy, or swollen skin at the point of contact. Dermatitis often occurs on the hands, fingers, wrists, face, and neck. Nail technicians who develop allergies may experience a much worse reaction with continuous exposure, which can include pulpitis, cutaneous fissures, subungual hyperkeratosis, onycholysis, and nail dystrophy. Rarely, paresthesia, urticaria (hives), or upper respiratory tract symptoms may occur.

What allergens are in the nail industry?

HEMA (hydroxyethyl methacrylate), HPMA (hydroxypropyl methacrylate), and IBOA (Isobornyl Acrylate) are the common allergens found in gel systems. While most people won't have a reaction to these chemicals, those who do may experience an immediate or delayed reaction depending on their sensitivity level. Overexposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of developing an allergy over time.

Want more info on ingredient such as HEMA, Bis-Hema & Di-Hema?  - This will help you understand the differences

f you have never seen or read about allergies before this case study from a HONA nail tech may help you understand the implications a little more - 

How to help prevent these nail allergies?

To minimise allergic reactions, take precautions when working with clients who may be sensitive to certain chemicals. Try to avoid skin contact with chemicals such as HEMA/HPMA/IBOA whenever possible and always use PPE such as gloves to shield yourself from exposure while maintaining dexterity.

Research all ingredients used in your salon before use to determine if they contain any potential triggers for allergies or sensitivities. - This article explaining the risks of nail products and why HONA ultimately only offer Hypoallergenic products is worth a quick read.

Avoid products with a high percentage of acrylates and methacrylates that cannot be properly cured. You may find clients do not need certain products used on them so exposing them is an unnecessary risk - Check out our article on prescriptive manicures)

Use trusted brands with a good reputation for safety standards and quality control of their formulas, especially when choosing builder gels or gel polishes with synthetic chemicals linked with allergies. 

Only use approved lamps that have been proven to fully cure the gel system you are using. Use an extractor fan and wear a face mask to prevent nail dust from entering your body.

Lastly, it's important to monitor both your own and your clients' nail health over time. If someone experiences an allergic reaction, take appropriate action or seek medical attention immediately if necessary.

As a responsible nail technician, it's crucial to know which ingredients could trigger an allergy, and this knowledge is essential for providing a safe environment for you and your clients. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your salon remains free from any potential allergic reactions while giving your clients peace of mind knowing they are being taken care of with the utmost care. Remember, knowledge is power!