Client Health

Are Artificial Nails Safe?

NAILS offers common questions and answers that you can share directly with your clients.

Q - Is it true that artificial nails cause fungal and yeast infections of the nails?

A - There are no components in the products used to create artificial nails that cause yeast and fungal infections of the nails. However, if you do not do your part in caring for your nails, you can develop problems that can stimulate fungal nail growth.

There are three main types of infections that can occur in nails: viral, bacterial, and fungal. Viral infections include warts around the nails and possibly a strain of the herpes virus. Over-vigorous mechanical manipulation of the nail also can create ideal conditions for an infection to develop. Bacterial infections of the nails are most often due to staphylococcus, commonly known as staph. Staph infections, too, result from excess picking, pushing, and cutting. It is rapid in onset, painful, and often accompanied by swelling and redness.

Fungal infections are seen in two major categories. The first is the dermatophyte or tinea variety, known as ringworm when it occurs on the skin. This is by far the most common. The nail at the free edge begins to separate from the nail bed and soon partially or totally lost. The nail bed becomes very thick and hard; this is known as subungual hyperkeratosis. Artificial nails have little to do with causing this infection.

The second types of fungal infection is due to the yeast N. candida. This infection is almost located around the cuticle, which can become pink, puffy, and sensitive. It is also mainly caused by over-vigorous manipulation of the nail, as with viral and bacterial infections. This type of infection is known as paronychia, and moisture plays a major role in its growth and formation. Thus it is much more common in waiters, bartenders, dishwashers, and anyone else whose hands are in water much of the time. It is often noted in new mothers as well. People with diabetes also seem to be more prone to yeast infections, as are some women who are susceptible to vaginal yeast infections. With regard to artificial nails, when they are not properly maintained through regular fill-sins and immediate repair of broken or lifted nails, moisture may accumulate both under and around the artificial product. In this situation, fungal and yeast infections might be nurtured. your nail technician should recommend a maintenance program and home-care regimen for you to follow. Problems with artificial nails arise when the extension product becomes loose and moisture gets trapped between the product and the natural nail.

Q - Do the chemicals used to create artificial nails go through the nail and into my bloodstream? Are they poisonous?

A - Most of the chemicals used to create artificial nails are acrylic-based. Certainly they would be dangerous if ingested. It is not likely that any significant amount of the products can go through the nails into the bloodstream. The danger is when products are applied improperly. Extension products, whether acrylics or gels, that do not fully cure or harden, can cause an allergic reaction. Ask your nail technician how she prevents this; she should discuss the training she’s had with the products. Another concern is when the products come in repeated contact with the skin. A skilled and experienced nail technician takes pains to prevent products from touching her clients’ skin. Do not become alarmed, though, if some product touches your skin. It is only through repeated exposure that the harm is done.

Q - Will wearing artificial nails hurt my baby if I am pregnant?

A - There has been some research done on the effect of salon vapors and dust on nail technicians, and it’s been shown that by preventing overexposure to the chemicals, people working around the chemicals should not be worried about their baby’s safety. It may make you fell more comfortable to go without artificial nails during your pregnancy, or to wear a mask while you nails are being done. As always, when it comes to your particular situation, consult your own physician or ob/gyn.

Q - Is it unsafe for older women to wear artificial nails?

A - It is perfectly safe for older women to wear artificial nails.

Q - Are there any medications or medical conditions that would preclude wearing artificial nails?

A - There are no medications or medical conditions I know of that would preclude wearing artificial nails. But you should check with your physician as to whether or not there is any risk in people who have poor circulation in the fingers or toes, although I have not observed any adverse effects.



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