Cuticles Itch After Gel Nails: How To Stop Itchy Cuticles

Closeup of manicurist removes cuticles on female nails by wooden orange stick in nail salon
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Achieving the perfect manicure is pretty easy these days, considering all of the amazing nail techniques and tools that are available, whether you choose to do it yourself at home, or prefer a session with your local nail technician at the salon.

And gel nail manicures are among the most popular types of manicures due to the fact that they are quick to apply and are long-lasting, like acrylics.

But sometimes your cuticles itch after gel nails. What causes that?

You may be allergic to one of the compounds in the gel material, or potentially to the UV light required to cure your gel manicure. If this itch occurs, you shouldn’t ignore it.

In this article, I’ll explain what’s going on and what you can do about it.


Cuticles Itch After Gel Nails

Skin allergies caused by acrylic and gel manicures are more common than you think, even if no one talks about them on TikTok.

There are a few reasons why your cuticles itch after gel nails. 

The skin on your cuticles is extremely delicate, which is why they are prone to cracking, splitting, and peeling, especially in these colder months, due to the lack of moisture in the air and having the heating on in your home.

You can also suffer from cuticle damage from doing simple things like washing your hands too much, overusing hand sanitizer, soaking the fingers with too much acetone nail polish remover, or not moisturizing your hands enough. 

Besides the painful irritation you’ll feel, dry and itchy cuticles can also allow dirt and bacteria to enter into the nail bed. This can leave the skin on your fingers prone to nasty infections. 

If your cuticles are itchy after having a gel manicure, or any other manicure like acrylic nails or other fake nails, this is something that you shouldn’t ignore.

Later in this article, I’ll give you some solutions for healing your cuticles, but now let’s look at the reasons why they are itching in the first place.

If your cuticles are itchy after having a gel manicure, or any other manicure like acrylic nails or other fake nails, this is something that you shouldn’t ignore.

Why Do You Get Itchy Cuticles After a Gel Manicure?

There are a couple of reasons why your cuticles itch after gel nails, one of them being the obvious fact that you may be allergic to the chemicals found in the gel formulation you’ve used.

When the skin around your cuticles is exposed to these chemicals, many end up having contact dermatitis as a reaction. But that’s not the only reason you might feel itchy after a gel manicure.

1. Allergic Reaction to Gel Polish or Ingredients

According to skin professionals at the British Association of Dermatologists, most gel nail formulations contain ethyl methacrylate or methyl methacrylate, two chemicals that are well known to cause allergic reactions.

The most common skin condition that is seen as a result of using these chemicals is a severe and red itchy rash that can affect your cuticles and fingers. It can also turn up elsewhere on your body, like your palms, neck, chest, and face. 

In the more severe cases, allergic reactions to ethyl methacrylate and methyl methacrylate include the lifting of the nail itself from the nail bed, deformity of the nail, allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), and even permanent nail damage if the substances penetrate deep into any broken skin on your cuticles.

In general, a typical ACD reaction will flare up within the first few hours of having a gel manicure done, although it may take a couple of days for a rash to appear.

The other main reason why you may be suffering itchy cuticles after a gel manicure actually has nothing to do with the chemicals in the gel polish, but with how your immune system responds to light. 

2. Polymorphic Light Eruption

Polymorphic light eruption is another cause of itching skin around the cuticles. This occurs because the ultraviolet (UV) light from the lamp can trigger your immune system to react really badly. Although you may not have heard of it, polymorphic light eruption is a quite common condition. 

This condition is also more commonly known as a sun allergy, and describes a number of conditions that manifest as an itchy rash on the skin after exposure to either sunlight or other UV radiation sources, like a UV nail lamp.

In addition, it might also be the case that a combination of the above reasons is why you have itchy cuticles after gel nails. That’s because not using the recommended UV lamp for the gel formulation doesn’t allow the gel to cure properly. 

And finding yourself in this scenario will increase your chances of developing an allergy to both the gel chemicals and the UV light.

So, what should you do to heal your cuticles?

How To Prevent Itchy Cuticles

Whether you suspect that your itchy cuticles are the result of chemicals in the gel nail polish that was used or the UV lamp used to cure it, the first thing you should do is remove the manicure immediately, so that it doesn’t cause any more irritation.

After that, it’s time to help repair your skin and help it heal. The main thing you need to do is hydrate the cuticle skin, which will soften the area, as well as condition your skin and nails to prevent further cracking, dryness, and itching.

Cuticle Oil

Cuticle Oil

Using a nourishing cuticle oil, cream, or oil pen that is quick absorbing and contains soothing ingredients like aloe vera or coconut oil will help with this. See this article on DIY cuticle oil recipes for home ideas.

If you prefer a commercial product, try Pura D’Or Organic Nail & Cuticle Oil , which has been developed to ensure that your cuticles stay soft, and your nails are free from cracking and splitting.

Its nourishing and organic blend of sunflower oil, honey, biotin, almond milk, vitamin E, and jojoba oil, also help to make your nails both healthier and stronger by providing the hydration they need after damage from acrylic and gel manicures.

Also containing a soothing blend of steam distilled essential oils, including geranium, mandarin, and ginger, which give this balm a pleasant scent, you can even apply it liberally at night and where cotton gloves to bed, so that you wake up to more nourished cuticles in the morning

It even works to repair rigid nail beds, and will smooth out their surfaces, leaving you with beautiful hands and healthier nails.

See also: How To Use Cuticle Oil For Healthier Nails

Avoid Hand Sanitizer and Acetone

You should also avoid using any store-bought hand sanitizers or acetone nail polish removers while your cuticles are healing. That’s because not only do these products cause skin dryness, but they also contain harsh chemicals that will inhibit it from getting better.

If you’re addicted to hand sanitizer, then use a more natural product such as Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray , which is 99.9% effective against all germs, but doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals, and has a pleasant scent derived from organic lavender essential oil.

If doing the above doesn’t improve the skin around your cuticles after a couple of weeks, then you should definitely make an appointment with a dermatologist, who will be able to help you further.

Health At Your Fingertips

Healthy skin and the perfect manicure go hand in hand. So, if you have itchy fingers after getting gel nails, then you need to do something about it — and fast.

Whether you’ve had an allergic reaction to the nail chemical formula of your gel polish, or your skin has reacted to exposure from the UV lamp, you now know what to do to make sure your cuticles get healthy again before rocking your next manicure.

Remove your manicure to relieve itchy cuticles, and give your hands and fingers some love with cuticle oil. In the future, try some different types of manicures to see if other options are less bothersome on your nails.

META DESCRIPTION: Having the perfect manicure sometimes comes at a cost to your cuticles. So, if your cuticles itch after gel nails, you’ll want to click here to find out what to do about it.

Written by Jacqueline Ames

Jackie is the resident fashion and nail design guru at Luxe Luminous. With a degree in Management and a deep-seated passion for the glamorous styles of the 50s and 60s, Jacqueline offers a unique fusion of business acumen and vintage fashion flair in her captivating articles.