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Can acetone cause blisters?

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Can acetone cause blisters?


I had put gel polish on the nails of a friend’s daughter. The last 3 that were still on, my friend soaked off with acetone. As a result, her daughter has large blisters on her fingertips. How is this possible? Can acetone cause blisters? Or is it something else? Fortunately, it is healing very well because she now uses a lot of quality oil and lotion.


If it had been the acetone, her skin would have been dry and red.  Acetone is a substance that our body produces itself. It can at most cause irritation, but not an allergy (contact dermatitis). 

What makes more sense is that the gel product used has acrylates (allergenic ingredients) that have not cured completely, and these have been released by soaking in the acetone that allowed the thinned uncured gel polish to dissolve (acetone is a solvent) and that has entered the (possibly damaged) skin during the soak off procedure. 

Of course, the product always looks solid enough when it comes out of the UV or LED lamp. But this is not always the case. If the lamp is somehow defective or inefficient, or the energy needed to cure does not trigger enough monomers to create a nice polymer chain, then the inner layers of the gel polish remain uncured. You may see some product ripples but it may all look good from the outside.

What you describe could be an acute reaction. But because blisters are already visible, an allergy is a fact. This can have serious consequences for your friend’s daughter in the future.

A few questions come to mind, as well as an observation.
What was the condition of the skin around her nail before the product was soaked? 
Was it irritated, swollen, or red? Did it itch? Or did she maintain her gel polish and nail unit well with oil and lotion?
How big are the blisters?
Did she take pictures?

The blisters that you describe make me think that an allergy is already a fact. I just can’t figure out which ingredient caused the problem. Guessing is foolish, it needs to be investigated.

It’s nice to hear that her skin is now recovering – but I don’t recommend using gel polish (any or all gel polishes, even hypoallergenic products contain acrylate monomers that are allergen) until a Medical Doctor or Allergy Specialist has figured out what she’s allergic to. 

The supplier of the gel polish will be able to provide the SDS of the products that have been used, the UV / LED lamp needs to be checked and, if a cleanser has been used, you can always obtain SDS from the supplier and include it in the letter for the MD. 

The suppliers must be informed of the reaction and the local governing agency (in the NL it’s the GGD) need to be informed about a possible allergy as the same problem can occur for other clients. The suppliers will be able to produce all the necessary documents and should be prepared to help you further to make sure it doesn’t become a major problem for the brand and its salons. The sooner a problem is recognized, the sooner it can be solved. That’s good for your clients, your salon, AND the manufacturer of the product. 

It’s important to recognize that the dentist and orthopedic surgeons use similar acrylates in dentistry and the operating room of the hospital. That means, in the future, major problems for the person with the allergy.

Imagine you lose all of your teeth during a pandemic, and the solution is implants, but you can’t get those because the dental surgeon can’t use a medical grade super glue to anchor them into your jaw. You need teeth, so the only remaining option is dentures. Imagine you are 32 and your teeth go into a glass of cleaning fluid at night! It’s a nightmare scenario and it really happens.

I would recommend asking if the supplier can help check your cure in the lamp you used and, if need be, advise you on how to solve the problem.

  • It’s important to keep all artificial nail products off of the skin 
  • It’s important to check every month to see if your UV Led Lamp still cures your product 
  • It’s important to refer these cases to the authorities and the brand so they can solve any issues that there might be with the product

Read more on allergies here:
What Is Causing the Allergy?
Why do some people develop a nail allergy?
Soaking Off Nail Enhancements
Can my client be allergic to acetone?

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