Want free delivery? Spend £25 more.
You've qualified for free delivery!
Skip to content

Nail Allergies: Recognise the Signs and Symptoms by Dr. Angela Tewari

Written by: Dr Angela Tewari



Time to read 2 min

Getting your nails done is a wonderful treat for some but regular usage increases your chances of the following skin changes and it is important to know the signs to look for.

Nail Diagram

Here is a picture of a normal nail. Pushing back the cuticles and cutting down the sides of your nail (lateral nail folds) during a manicure breaks the seal around your nails. 

This seal preserves the nail and prevents bugs from getting in. By removing it, your chance of a nail infection will increase. 

One type of nail bed infection is known as paronychia and this is where the sides of the nails will become swollen, sore and red.  

This will need topical antibiotics and antifungals to treat – in some cases it will need tablet antibiotics and long-term thick emollient around the nail plate to ensure it is all sealed over. 

So be mindful and make sure the skin around your nails is not cut back significantly.

Damaged Nails

Paronychia (skin infection around the nails) around the base of the nail.  This is chronic around the left nail as the nail that is growing is damaged.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis To The Nail

Allergic reactions to nail cosmetics is an important one to look out for. The fingertips will appear red and swollen, generally a few days after the nails are done. 

In some cases, if there is significant inflammation of the nail bed the nail will start lifting from the skin (known as onchyolysis). 

This is probably the most important picture to be aware of as once it develops, this allergy is permanent. This is typically caused by the gooey substance that is put on the nail (which contains methylmethacrylate) not being cured properly. 

This needs a UV lamp to allow the 'goo' to take the shape of your nail and set. Before it sets these gooey monomers (methacrylates) are highly allergenic. 

Allergies to this are more likely to occur with home gel kits due to self-use, or if the wrong or inappropriately set UV lamp is used.

So to recap, once an allergy sets in the skin around the nail will be sore and swollen and the nail can start peeling off. It's therefore best to use the right nail kit.


In some cases fungus can get in between the nail end and the bed, causing significant splitting. 

In these cases, you must see a dermatologist to get proper treatment for the nails as you may lose it if not. 

Don't worry, it'll take a little time but the new nail that grows back will be strong and healthy.

Dr Angela Tewari

Dr Angela Tewari is a leading consultant dermatologist in central London working on the NHS and privately seeing hair skin and nail disease and cosmetic dermatology

Recently viewed

Recently viewed

15% OFF

Get exclusive deals and be the first to know about sales and special offers.

You can unsubscribe anytime!


Free UK Standard Delivery

On Orders Over £25!


Apple Pay

Available on all purchases


Buy now, pay later

Klarna Available

Add Fix 'N' Flash Gel to secure

Shop Fix 'N' Flash Gel to cure on your tips

Shape and remove Fix 'N' Flash

Shop The Shortie to customise your tips and make removal easier

FREE GIFT! 4 Selected Polishes (Worth £27.99)

Bag 4 FREE polishes (The Del Rey Kit, worth £27.99) when you buy any of our Full Works Kits. Offer valid for a limited time only.

Add Brush It Off to cleanse ‘em

Shop Brush It Off to cleanse your brushes

Go extend your brushes lives

Shop our brushes here