How to Treat an Allergic Reaction to Gel Nail Polish

Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.
By Dr. Ahmad Chaudhry M.B.B.S.
Updated on November 15, 2023

Gel nail polish has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its long-lasting shine and chip-resistant formula. However, for those with sensitivities or allergies to components in gel nail polish, a reaction can unfortunately occur. Learning how to properly treat a gel nail polish allergic reaction is important should symptoms arise.

How to treat an allergic reaction to gel nail polish

If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction such as redness, swelling, itching or a rash around your nails after applying gel nail polish, the first step is to remove the offending product immediately. Use a nail polish remover specifically formulated for gel or dip manicures to dissolve the gel from your natural nails without damage. Avoid picking or pulling at the polish as this could worsen the reaction or cause infection. Once removed, apply a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected area for 15 minutes to reduce swelling and discomfort.

Additional treatment steps

After dissolving and removing the gel polish, you may also want to take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl to further tackle symptoms from the inside. Applying a topical hydrocortisone cream can help relieve redness and itching. If swelling is severe or the reaction is particularly painful, contacting your doctor is recommended. They may prescribe a stronger topical or oral steroid medication to bring the allergic response under control. Always finish the entire prescribed course of treatment and avoid using that specific brand or type of gel polish in the future.


With the proper treatment steps, most minor gel nail polish allergic reactions can clear up within a few days. However, if symptoms persist or worsen beyond a week, medical attention may be required to properly diagnose and treat the reaction. Being aware of potential allergens before undergoing nail services and knowing how to respond if a reaction occurs can help minimize discomfort and down time. With care and attention, you can still enjoy beautiful gel manicures while protecting your overall nail health.

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