Can This TikTok Trend Give You Contact Dermatitis?

Here's what you need to know.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Social media is wonderful for many things: connecting us with people we love, entertaining us with cat videos, and teaching us beauty tips. As much as we love it though, we know to take what we see with a grain of salt. After all, just because something looks easy or sounds convincing doesn't mean that it's true or safe.

We've seen this happen time and time again with beauty-themed videos. (Remember how people were blowdrying their lashes to make them hold a curl? Or how others were applying hemorrhoid cream under their eyes to reduce puffiness? Yeah...) So, when we saw a French manicure hack go viral on TikTok, we also wondered if there were potential side effects.

The hack involves applying nail polish onto the fingertip, then pressing another nail into the lacquer to create a fine, French line. Harmless, right? Maybe! But doing so could potentially cause contact dermatitis (an itchy rash). So, to better understand the potential health risks, we tapped three experts and asked them to weigh in.


Can regular nail polish cause contact dermatitis if it comes in contact with the skin?

"It is entirely dependent upon formulation and the skin it comes in contact with," says CND's Head of Research & Development, Jamie Welton. He goes on to explain that there are some products that products do use compounds that are known allergens but that regardless, nail products are formulated for the nail, not the skin, and should be used as directed.

"While not everyone will experience a contact dermatitis, in someone who is already sensitive to certain ingredients in the nail polish, it can occur even after brief contact, while for others it may just occur with prolonged exposure," furthers Marisa Garshick, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist. "When it comes to allergies related to nail products, some potential triggers include methacrylate, tosylamide formaldehyde resins, camphor, dibutylphtalate, solvents such as toluene or alcohol and dyes."

Can gel polish cause contact dermatitis if it comes in contact with the skin?

Similar to the above response, formulas differ from product to product and some can indeed cause contact dermatitis. However, OPI's North America Education Manager & Capability, Galdina Jimenez, says people are more likely to develop allergic contact dermatitis with long-lasting nail coatings as they use (meth)acrylates in their formulas.

Furthermore, Dr. Garshick says gel polish can lead to contact dermatitis both in the form of an allergy and irritant. Plus, since gel polish is designed to stay on longer and can be more difficult to remove once it's cured, it may contribute to skin irritation as a result of prolonged contact.


What's the best way to remove nail polish from the skin?

For regular lacquer, simply use a nail polish remover to gently wipe it away.

If you have gel polish on your skin, there are a few things you can do. For starters, Welton suggests using an acetone wipe followed by soap and water, then washing your hands thoroughly. Jimenez recommends using a cotton ball saturated in an isopropyl alcohol, like OPI's NAS 99, to get rid of the excess gel.

To  minimize the risk of irritation, Dr. Garshick adds that it may help to apply an ointment containing petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to help reduce any potential dryness, redness, or sensitivity.

How to treat contact dermatitis:

Should you develop a reaction from your skin coming in contact with polish, rest assured that there's an easy solution. "Generally, contact dermatitis can be treated with topical steroids to help reduce inflammation, itching, and redness," begins Dr. Garschick. "It can also help to continue to use an occlusive barrier ointment or moisturizing cream to help minimize dryness and further irritation."

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