Check-Up: Give acrylic nails a break

June 03, 2019

Karin asks Check Up: Doc, can I continue wearing acrylic nail extensions if my nails become soft and thin? I’m not sure, but I might even have a nail fungus. But the way the nails are looking, I’m ­hoping it is okay to cover them again, and maybe take some antifungal pill treatment. I can keep them shorter this time.


Karin, your nails really need a rest from the acrylics, even for a few months, if not permanently!

Remember that your own nails are filed down further every time acrylic powder is applied to provide a surface for the nail tip to bond to. And the chemicals in the nail filler used to fill in the gap when your real nail grows out, can sometimes weaken your own nail. The acrylic used on the nail often must be soaked off in an acetone solution, which dries and weakens the nails. Some people are actually allergic to the nail filler used, which can cause swelling and redness around the fingernails.

These are a lot of reasons to give acrylic nails a break.

If you also have a nail fungal infection as well, then your poor nails are sick and need a rest for some months, at least, to recover. You can cut the soft nails off short and even use regular nail polish to cover them up, if you feel you need to, but please give your fingernails a rest from the acrylic nail extensions.

You should let your doctor see your fingernails uncovered, without acrylic or even regular nail polish, to determine if your nails are infected and what treatment is needed.

For readers who wear acrylic nails, take a break from them every few months. Let your real nails heal from chemical exposure and breathe again.

For health professionals, there are studies which show that acrylic nails are a possible source of infection in your work environment.

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