Side effects of gel nail polish: A systematic review

Clin Dermatol. 2022 Nov-Dec;40(6):706-715. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2022.07.008. Epub 2022 Jul 28.


Gel nail polish (GNP) has recently gained worldwide popularity. We have conducted a comprehensive summary of the complications of GNP through a literature search using the PubMed, Scopus, and Google Scholar databases to identify eligible contributions. Complications were divided into mechanical and traumatic nail disorders, allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), and ultraviolet (UV)-induced lesions. A total of 12 contributions were included, identifying 88 patients, all of whom were women. Six of the reports described ACD (62 cases, 70.5%), 3 concerned mechanical nail damage (23 cases, 26.1%), and 3 reported UV-induced skin lesions (3 cases, 3.4%). ACD developed an average of 30 months after GNP initiation. The most frequent culprit allergens were 2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate and 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate. Pterygium inversum unguis was the most frequent mechanical lesion (n = 17). Squamous cell carcinoma was reported in 3 cases. The delay between UV exposure and the diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma ranged from 11 to 15 years. Scant literature and a lack of education among consumers and beauticians have led to the uncontrolled use of GNP. The principle of managing nail cosmetic problems is prevention through education. There is a need for understanding the processes involved and the associated complications to facilitate appropriate treatment and safe use.

Keywords: Complications; Contact dermatitis; Gel nail polish; Nail cosmetics; Side effects; Squamous cell carcinoma; UV lamp.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell*
  • Cosmetics* / adverse effects
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact* / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact* / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact* / etiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nail Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Nails
  • Patch Tests / adverse effects


  • Cosmetics