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Gel manicures can pose health risks

July 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you get manicures, you may know nail gel is the latest thing. It reportedly doesn't chip as easily as nail polish alone and is often billed as a "more natural alternative" to acrylics. It may be what they claim, but Consumer Reports says some of the new gel treatments can have serious health risk. A lot of women like gel manicures because they look good for weeks and feel natural. But some treatments touted as gels include acrylics, which can contain chemicals that may be harmful.

Just a day after Jane Ubell-Meyer got what she was told was a gel manicure she was in agony, suffering what seemed to be electric shocks whenever her thumb touched anything.

"The shock went not only down my thumb, it went up through my elbow and up to my arm," said Meyer. "I'm in such pain, I'm almost crying from the pain."

After examining her, neurologist Orly Avitzur, who is also a medical consultant for Consumer Reports, immediately suspected the chemicals in the manicure.

"I believe that Jane had a gel manicure that also included acrylics," said Dr. Avitzur. "When I examined her thumb, I saw that it had been scraped raw by an electrical file. What I believe happened is that this caused the chemicals to seep in and cause nerve damage."

Believe it or not, most of the ingredients used in nail products are not tested for safety by the Food and Drug Administration before being sold.

And in fact, some of the acrylics used with gels can be associated with fingernail damage and deformity.

"Another problem with gel manicures is rough or painful filing of the surface of the nail, which can cause damage," said Dr. Avitzur.

Dr. Avitzur says that after looking into gel manicures, she recommends sticking with good old-fashioned nail polish. If you're patient and get several coats, nail polish can last a week or more.

If you go to any nail salon Consumer Reports says be sure to take basic precautions like making sure the nail technicians are licensed and they follow the proper procedures when it comes to sanitizing their tools.


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