Facial cosmetics have been known to cause contact dermatitis, but one doesn’t typically think about being allergic to nail polish. What is interesting is that often the first sign of being allergic to nail polish is a rash on the eyelids or face, not a rash around the nail. This occurs because the person has inadvertently rubbed their eyes and since the skin on our lids is thin and sensitive, the allergic rash begins there.
What is contact dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis is a skin irritation that occurs from either an allergy or an irritation to a substance that has touched your skin.
An allergic reaction from nail polish can appear as redness, fingertip tenderness and swelling. The development of contact dermatitis on the eyelids from nail polish allergy is considered to be a case of transfer dermatitis, which at first may make it difficult to determine whether the reaction is from eye make-up, a skin cream or from nail polish.
What is in nail polish that causes a reaction?
Nail polish is full of ingredients that act as hardeners, increase flexibility and enhance the shine of the polish. Toluene sulfonamide formaldehyde resin, acrylates, and ethylcyanoacrylate are the most common allergens and a reaction most commonly occurs when the enamel is wet on the nail. (Militello)
Red nail polish reactions
It has been suggested that red nail polish causes nail allergies more often than other colors. Red nail polish does have red dye from D&C Reds No. 6, 7, 34, or 5 Lake and, according to Emedicine, is more likely than other polishes to cause staining that can last several days. However, Emedicine did not report that there are more allergic reactions to red polish.
One additive that some red nail polishes have is carmine, a dye from ground up beetles that has a particularly vivid red color. Carmine has been found to cause contact dermatitis reactions when added to red lipstick and eye shadow. Carmine has been also shown to sometimes cause severe allergic reactions when ingested or breathed. (medscape nurses)