I have been getting my nails done for my whole life, but presently I can hardly utilize my hands.

A mother with two children recounts the frightening ordeal of losing the ability to use her hands following what was initially believed to be an allergic response to manicure procedures.

After a considerable duration, Lisa Dewey from Pattishall, Northamptonshire, had been regularly getting gel manicures without encountering any problems. However, after a routine appointment in February, the 36 year old Lisa, noticed that her fingers were becoming irritated and her nails were beginning to loosen.

The situation deteriorated further when one of her fingers developed a haunting purple color, causing her concern that it might break.

Following a medical consultation, Mrs. Dewey was diagnosed with a bacterial infection by her doctor. The physician advised her to undergo treatment with an antibiotic and a steroid cream.

Unfortunately, her fingers have significantly deteriorated as a result of a recent manicure. She experienced intense pain and her hand’s mobility was greatly restricted.

After considering her symptoms, Lisa concluded that her issues were connected to her gel manicures.

Mrs. Dewey, who works as a cleaning specialist for the NHS, has uncovered a potential allergy to a specific ingredient in gel nail polish. This aligns with the recent advice from dermatologists advocating for heightened caution. In February, immediately following her regular gel nail treatment, Mrs. Dewey, a devoted mother of two children aged three and twelve, experienced an unforeseen reaction.

Within a short span of a few days, she was taken aback when her nails began detaching from the nail bed. One of them even displayed a purple hue. Additionally, her remaining nails started to experience significant discomfort and itching. Until then, she had never considered the possibility that her regular nail care routine might be responsible for these issues.

In retrospect, while contemplating her lifelong practice of receiving acrylic or gel nails, Mrs. Dewey shared, “I’ve been getting my nails done my entire life. When it first happened after getting a set of gel nails in February, my initial assumption was that it was a bacterial infection.”

Convinced that it was an allergic reaction, Mrs. Dewey strongly believed that to be the cause.

The unsettling purple discoloration surrounding her finger’s nail filled her with anxiety, fearing the potential loss of a finger due to restricted circulation. However, the actual cause turned out to be something entirely distinct. Her doctors, presuming she was suffering from an illness, administered antibiotics to her.

After removing the gel nails and giving her nails a break from care products, Mrs. Dewey believed that the ordeal was finally over. However, to her disappointment, the reaction intensified when she decided to have artificial nails applied again in April. Once more, her fingernails started to lift, and the surrounding skin became as delicate as paper.

Additionally, the severe discomfort left her hands immobilized. Recently, she obtained a new prescription for an alternative medication to address her condition. Personally, Mrs. Dewey attributes her symptoms to an allergic reaction, although she hasn’t disclosed the specific medical opinion that led her to this conclusion.

Gel manicures appear to be causing problems at an increasingly higher rate, and Mrs. Dewey is not the only one affected.

Last month, the British Association of Dermatologists issued a warning that aligned with Mrs. Dewey’s experience. This serves to highlight the growing trend of doctors treating patients for allergic reactions associated with acrylic and gel nails.

The warning from the British Association of Dermatologists specifically pointed out that the frequent reactions were often linked to the usage of at-home gel polish kits and the involvement of inadequately qualified manicurists. They emphasized that the reaction occurs when the UV light, necessary for the polymerization process of the polish, is not applied for a sufficient duration.

Insufficient UV exposure can lead to the leakage of methacrylates, which are chemical components found in gel nail polish. These elements can be absorbed by the skin, resulting in various adverse effects such as skin rashes, nails becoming detached, and in severe cases, breathing difficulties. Moreover, individuals affected by this may develop a long-lasting sensitivity or hypersensitivity to certain compounds, known as “life-long sensitization.”

The consequences of such a reaction can be significant. Affected individuals may face limitations in undergoing necessary future surgeries, such as knee replacements, cataract operations, or dental procedures. This is because these medical interventions expose patients to the same substances that trigger their negative reactions.

Lisa now experiences ongoing discomfort, making even the most basic tasks incredibly difficult for her.

As a result of the continuous pain in her hands and nails, Mrs. Dewey faces significant challenges in her daily life, requiring constant support from her husband, Lee, who is 45 years old. She expressed, “Simple activities like washing my daughter’s hair have become arduous because they involve finger movements. Even something as simple as fastening her into the car seat becomes excruciating if my finger brushes against the belt, as the raw skin intensifies the pain.”

Despite wearing gloves, the condition worsens due to sweaty hands, intensifying the symptoms. Moreover, anything with a scent or fragrance further aggravates the situation, preventing me from using conditioning treatments or hair mousse.

With a strong determination to prioritize her well-being, Mrs. Dewey has made the decision to completely avoid nail products permanently. She is also committed to raising awareness among others about the associated risks. She stated, “Some individuals can undergo years of nail treatments without experiencing any issues until one day it unexpectedly affects them. I had originally planned to have my hands and toes done for my upcoming August vacation, but I have now canceled those appointments. This experience has greatly impacted my self-confidence.”

Usually, I am indifferent to the opinions of others, but now I feel compelled to conceal my hands. It is genuinely embarrassing to have my hands in this condition. There is a celebration scheduled for this week, but if my hands do not show improvement, I will not be able to attend. My main goal is to contribute by raising awareness that things may not be as harmless as they seem.

“The chemicals called methacrylates present in gel nail polishes have the potential to induce an allergic reaction when they penetrate the skin. This can result in nails becoming loose and the skin developing a severe and itchy rash. While at-home gel manicures are the primary culprit for triggering such a painful reaction, even salon nail treatments can pose a risk if the technician is inadequately trained.”

When gel manicures are performed, methacrylates can permeate the skin if the ultraviolet lamps, which are used to solidify each layer of gel, are not used for an adequate duration. Poor maintenance of the equipment can also contribute to this issue. Additionally, if the gel is not properly “cured” for the recommended period of time, a chemical reaction may occur on the skin surrounding the nails.

Each brand of gel polish has a specific curing time that should be strictly followed, typically ranging from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. However, experts have cautioned that nail technicians rushing clients out of salons before the gel is adequately cured can also trigger an allergic reaction. Individuals who experience such reactions may develop a long-lasting sensitivity or hypersensitivity to the chemicals, known as “life-long sensitization.”

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