03 December 2008

Nailing down healthy nails

Nail cosmetics and salon services are generally quite safe, but there are potential problems associated with the use of nail cosmetics and salon services, American experts say.

Americans spend more than $6 billion each year on regular visits to nail salons. They also spend millions on retail nail cosmetics at drugstores and cosmetic counters. Many South Africans follow suit.

While problems are rare, all that buffing, polishing, soaking and massaging can pose some risks for your nails, according to dermatologist Dr Phoebe Rich, who addressed the issue at the recent American Academy of Dermatology's Derm Update 2003.

Four potential problem areas
Nail cosmetics and salon services are generally quite safe, but there are four potential problem areas associated with the use of nail cosmetics and salon services: allergic reactions, irritant reaction, mechanical damage to the nail and infection, says Rich, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Sciences University, in a prepared statement.

While these are fairly rare occurrences, they can be serious. Consumers are urged to take some simple measures to guard against these potential health concerns, she says.

Methylmethacrylate warnings
The most common nail cosmetic ingredient that can cause an allergic reaction is methylmethacrylate (MMA), which is used in the application of acrylic nails.

Although several warnings about MMA's hazards have been heard over the last couple of years, the substance is still being used in some discount salons because it costs so much less than the safe acrylate alternatives such as ethylmethacrylate, Rich says.

If consumers notice a strong odour associated with acrylic nail application, MMA is probably being used and that salon should be avoided.

Other chemicals to look out for
Tosylamid formaldehyde resin is another nail cosmetic ingredient that can cause an allergic reaction.

If you experience itching or burning of the skin following a nail salon service, remove the product as quickly as possible and visit a dermatologist to determine which ingredient is responsible for the allergy.

Nail polish remover and formaldehyde, a common ingredient in nail hardeners, can dehydrate nails. When dehydrated nails are exposed to chemicals or soapy water, the nails can split, peel and become brittle.

Consumers should not use nail polish remover more than once a week and should moisturise their hands often, especially after using any dehydrating products and after washing the hands, Rich says. One of the best ways to protect your nails from irritants is to wear gloves when doing wet work, such as cleaning with harsh products or gardening. - (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
Is your nail salon safe?


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Mental health & your work »

How open are you about mental illness in the workplace?

Mental health in the workplace – what you can do to help

If you know that one of your colleagues suffers from a mental illness, would you be able to help them at work? Maligay Govender offers some helpful mental health "first aid" tips.

Sleep & You »

Sleep vs. no sleep Diagnosis of insomnia

6 things that are sabotaging your sleep

Kick these shut-eye killers to the kerb and make your whole life better – overnight.