ALLERGIES Home Skin Care

Shellac Allergy – What is Shellac? Complete Guide

The number of substances that cause allergies is growing every year. This is due to the general weakening of human health by adverse environmental factors. It is also caused by the invention of new synthetic substances.

One of these tools is shellac which has become used in the lives of many girls and has become indispensable. With proper use, this nail polish becomes even more useful. At the same time, information about shellac allergy appears more and more often.

What is shellac and why is it so popular?

Shellac is a modern cosmetic and household product that is used to cover nails and create a beautiful manicure. It combines the properties of varnish and gel. This ensures the durability and beauty of the created nails. The popularity of shellac is explained by its following qualities:

  1. Sustainability. A manicure created with shellac remains unchanged for two weeks or more.
  2. Positive effect on nails. Before coating the nails with shellac, they are lightly polished. The application of the composition itself allows you to strengthen the nail plate.
  3. Durable shine. After applying shellac, the nails become shiny. No factors are reflected in their appearance: water, cosmetics, sunlight.
  4. Fast drying – allows you to make a quality manicure in a short time.
  5. Wide palette of shades.
  6. The ability to clean nails at home. If you have a shellac remover, you can do it yourself.

Shellac is mainly applied in beauty salons. But you can do it at home, having gained experience in covering nails from the master. Often shellac is used for a sufficiently long period without any side effects. Allergy symptoms can occur unexpectedly, both in the client and the manicurist.

Causes of Allergy

Shellac is a resin used to make acrylic nails and is widely used in nail salons. Shellac is made up of a large number of chemical compounds. Each of them can cause an allergic reaction on its own or in combination with other substances. The composition is based on:

  • citric and phosphoric acids
  • hectorite
  • nitrocellulose
  • methacrylate
  • diacetone alcohol
  • phenyl ketone
  • butyl acetate

Of these substances, methacrylate is the most dangerous. In some countries, products containing it are prohibited by law. But other chemical ingredients can also cause individual intolerance, as is the case with drugs.

Shellac allergy also occurs due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which dries the coating. But in this case, the symptoms appear not only during manicure procedures. But also when visiting a solarium or ultraviolet treatment. In most people, direct exposure to shellac results in allergic contact dermatitis

The development of allergies most often occurs gradually. This indicates the accumulation of substances that make up shellac in the body. But there is also an acute allergic reaction. An additional risk factor is a weakened immune system.

A heap of shellac flakes and a Bottle of brown Shellac liquid

Shellac Allergy Symptoms

Shellac allergy most often occur itself in the form of changes in the skin of the fingers. The severity of symptoms varies from case to case and is determined by the state of the person’s immune system. At the initial stage of an allergy, the following symptoms can be observed:

  • Rash accompanied by intense itching. As a rule, it is localized at the fingertips but can spread further along with the hands.
  • Redness of the skin
  • Edema. The entire hand can swell, but most often swelling of its fragments occurs. They can vary in density and size.

If at this stage you do not pay due attention to the treatment of allergies, it progresses. The rash acquires a vesicular character and then can be replaced by age spots. It goes from the fingertips to the entire surface of the hand. The palms are covered with a rash characteristic of herpes.

Over time, the skin in places of particular irritation coarsens and cracks, and sometimes weeping eczema develops.

In places of swelling on the skin, blood rushes through the vessels, and the temperature in them rises. But the nails suffer the most the nail plate peels off, and the skin around it becomes inflamed.

In addition to a skin reaction, respiratory failure may occur. It occurs under the action of methacrylate vapors inhaled by a person. In mild cases, this is limited to sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat.

In an acute severe attack, swelling of the nasopharynx occurs, which can lead to suffocation. This condition requires an urgent call from medical personnel.

Shellac allergy treatment

Initially, it is necessary to accurately determine whether the patient is allergic to this type of nail coating. Although the symptoms are fairly obvious at first glance. It sometimes takes several months of careful observation and testing to confirm the diagnosis.

The doctor must exclude fungal and infectious diseases with similar symptoms. The fact is that if spores of the fungus get under the shellac. They will begin to multiply intensively in favorable conditions. This can happen due to microcracks in the nail coating.

If strange symptoms occur after applying shellac to the nails. You should immediately clean the nails from this coating. If it is not possible to do this with the master, then you need to remove the shellac yourself.

The longer the skin is in contact with the allergen, the more negative symptoms will appear. Due to this, the treatment will become more complicated.


To alleviate the patient’s condition, the doctor may prescribe the following drugs:

  1. Antihistamines – stop the development of allergic reactions in the form of itching, swelling, and redness of the skin. The course of treatment is from 1 to 1.5 weeks. Examples of drugs are Claritin, Zodak, Zyrtec, Cetrin.
  2. Corticosteroids and hormonal agents – eliminate itching, rash, swelling, and inflammation. These are local preparations – ointments Telekom and advantage. Treatment with them should be strictly under the supervision of a physician and not exceed 10 days.
  3. Burov’s liquid – helps with weeping skin inflammations.

Usually, after a few days of such treatment, a person suffering from allergies becomes much better. But full recovery is a rather lengthy process. Its prerequisite is the cessation of the use of shellac. Otherwise, subsequent allergic reactions will be even stronger.

To restore nails destroyed by allergies, you can use the following recipes:

  • Dilute 1 tbsp of l sea salt in 500 ml of water and dip your hands in the solution for 10-15 minutes. At the end of the procedure, hands should be lubricated with cream
  • lubrication of nails with iodine
  • lubrication of nail plates with lemon juice for several minutes. After the procedure, the nails are washed with plain water.
  • Apply currant, lingonberry, raspberry, or mountain ash puree to the nails for 15 minutes.

Allergy Prevention

Several simple precautions can help prevent the development of an allergy to shellac. For a nail service master, the skin mustn’t come into contact with the gel polish. The workplace must be properly prepared to prevent shellac from sticking to it. It is important to ensure that each layer of the applied coating is completely cured.

To do this, you need to have a high-quality and powerful UV lamp. In some cases, allergies occur on the sticky layer that covers the finished nails. Some special tools help to get rid of allergies. And of course, the shellac itself must be of high quality and original production.

For girls who like shellac nails, there are also some recommendations:

  • you should always use the services of a qualified craftsman.
  • nails must be given a “rest” between procedures 2-3 weeks long.
  • until the nails are covered with shellac. You should use fortified creams and folk strengthening recipes.
  • at the first suspicious symptoms, it is necessary to remove the coating from the nails.

If shellac has to be abandoned forever. You can find an alternative to this coating in the form of high-quality varnish. For example, Vinylux or Red Carpet. They are very resistant and contain fewer chemical compounds, harmful to health.

Do not underestimate the resulting malaise after coating your nails with shellac. The consequences can be very serious. If an allergy occurs, you need to consult a doctor, and after successful treatment. You should choose another option for beautiful nail design.