The Hidden Dangers of Fake Nails: Are They Worth the Risk?

January 27, 2008 by Kristie Leong MD  
Published in Makeup

Fake or acrylic nails can be a source of infection and exposure to potential cancer causing chemicals.

If you suffer from brittle nails and are unable to grow them past a certain point, you may be tempted to invest in fake nails to get the look you want. Most so called “fake nails” are composed of acrylic fabric which covers the entire natural nail surface extending out beyond the natural nail to add the appearance of length. Although these nails tend to be expensive when applied by a professional, this isn’t the only problem encountered with false nails. Here are some reasons you may want to reconsider getting acrylic nails:

Risk of Infection

When an acrylic nail is applied to the natural nail surface, minor types of trauma to the acrylic nail which can happen from something as harmless as scraping a nail against a firm surface can cause separation of the nail from its nail bed. This allows bacteria and fungus to potentially enter the separated area setting up an infection. In fact, some hospitals won’t allow their employees to have fake fingernails sue to the risk of harboring infection which could be transmitted to patients. Several deaths of premature infants were blamed on an acrylic nail infection transmitted to the babies by a nurse in the late 1990’s. Infection can also be a risk when you have nails applied by a disreputable nail salon that doesn’t follow sanitary practices.

Exposure to Nail Chemicals

The chemicals used to apply acrylic nails are notoriously unhealthy including such offenders as resins and formaldehyde which may play a role in causing cancer. If you have acrylic nails applied on a frequent basis you may be getting significant exposure to these dangerous agents. Is it really worth the risk? To further add to the risk, some disreputable nail salons are using a poisonous and illegal substance called MMA in their nail adhesives. This chemical has been outlawed for use in many areas, although it’s still being purchased on the black market and added to nail products. It can cause serious damage to the lungs as well as permanent damage to natural nails when used as an adhesive. Exposure to this chemical through your nails over a long period of time can result in complete nail loss by destruction of the nail matrix.

Hard On Your Pocketbook

All of those trips to the nail salon to maintain your acrylic nails can add up. Wouldn’t it be more pleasant to save that money for a future vacation?

As you can see, acrylic nails are not without their risks and disadvantages. Take these factors into consideration before committing yourself to a handful of potential problems.

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14 Responses to “The Hidden Dangers of Fake Nails: Are They Worth the Risk?”
  1. Francie Says:

    Great article! I agree with you 100 percent. I have had experience with acrylics and would no longer use them. Biggest problem being when they break your own nail bed suffers trauma and sometimes bleeds. The substance that is used is dangerous, I now know more from your researched article. Thanks for this important info.

  2. lanne Says:

    Fortunately I am one who can grow my nails and have never been tempted to get acrylics done. I have seen some of these places though and it has always made me wonder why, if it isn`t harmful to you, that the people doing the nails all wear masks.
    As long as short nails are clean and well kept, they look just as nice as long nails do.

  3. n.o.y.b. Says:

    that is a lie.!wen my nails beak off im going to go and get new ones at the nail salon.

  4. avyjo Says:

    good article. i would say maybe acrylic for a special occasion like a nice vacation or a formal event. but its stupid to have these all the time. as soon as they chip or break off they look tacky and terrible. and getting them filled makes them look uneven. and also have you ever looked underneath the nail it gets dirt and grose stuff in it also. so SOME ADVISE- if YOU DO GET THESE SCRUB INDER YOUR NAILS!!!!!!!! –

  5. nonyobiness Says:

    i agree with n.y.o.b.

  6. b*tch Says:

    i agree wit n.y.o.b and nonyobiness…i been getn den since i waz 11 nothin happend to me…

  7. Siobhan M. Christiansen Says:

    what are the effects on babies and small children who sit in an enclosed room subjected to these odors while their mothers are getting their nails done? Can anyone provide an answer?

  8. kagedbird Says:

    If you speak to most men they do not like fake nails.

  9. kagedbird Says:

    http://kagedbird.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/yukky-nails/

  10. Pauline Says:

    Yes your article is certainly correct, but it still does not stop many women from wanting this done to their natural nails. Usually it takes an infection to stop someone from wanting false fingernails.

  11. Anna P Says:

    I have been wearing acrylic nails since I was 16, I am now 23 and I have NEVER looked back.
    Sometimes I have had bad experiences when in-experienced nail techs have over filed my natural nail resulting in red lines & pain like no other but there are professionals out there who get the job done right, I have been a regular customer of professionail in Adelaide now for at least 2yrs & I have NEVER been happier :) I have NEVER had an infection from any salon & my natural nails still grow when i remove the acrylic. I have been searching for a reason to take my nails off but as of yet, I have found nothing!

  12. I French Tips Says:

    You dumb monkeys you’re just too cheap to get your nails done 50 bucks isn’t a lot of money to get a little pampering I love to get french tips and if I feel a little wild I’ll get some color as for the nail infections as long as your nails are being done by a professional with experience with clean tools you will be fine

  13. I Love French Tips Says:

    You dumb monkeys you\’re just too cheap to get your nails done 50 bucks isn\’t a lot of money to get a little pampering I love to get french tips and if I feel a little wild I\’ll get some color as for the nail infections as long as your nails are being done by a professional with experience with clean tools you will be fine

  14. mayrose25 Says:

    Well i love how acrylics look. i believe they r to enhance your natural beauty as my nails do grow, they are soft so i use acrylics to strenghten my nails at the same time after a while i want them removed because they
    DO damage your nail bed and leave grooves from the drilling


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