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Beauty at a price

Health & Science - By Standard Digital | August 17th 2011 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

A person may develop stomachaches or worse, it could lead to internal bleeding, writes Rawlings Otieno

Beware! Painted nails may look glamorous, but they may leave you with endless health complications, medics warn.

This is even more dangerous for children below 12 years who are fond of nail biting and sucking their fingers, predisposing them to yeast infection, while also risking ingesting the same chemicals.

According to Dr Hannah Wanyika, a consultant dermatologist in Nairobi, nail polish contains chemicals that are extremely harmful to the health of a person when ingested or inhaled.

"When toluene is released into the air and you breathe in the fumes, it could result in nervous system problems, irritation of the eyes, throat and lungs, and sometimes yeast infection or candidiasis," she warns.

Handling food

Experts are also asking people to watch out when handling food with painted nails as it could get into the food and endanger the health of the family.

This is because when nail varnish comes into contact with water, it easily peels off and people may easily consume it without knowing.

Dr Wanyika says when the nail polish chippings enter the body, they can easily be absorbed and stored in the stomach lining and in the intestines. This is deadly, as a person may develop stomachaches or, worse, it could lead to internal bleeding.

The skin specialist further urges people to desist using coloured nail varnish for a long time especially on children as it could lead to yeast infection.

Yeast infection occurs at the edge of the nails leaving them ragged and wet.

For children below the age of 12 years, parents should not allow nail polish as they can easily ingest it when they put their hands in the mouth.

Safety

Dr Wanyika says that although there are scanty studies on the health effect of nail polish, it is important for people to be cautious because some contain chemicals that are not safe when ingested.

She says nails have pores and if the polish containing the chemical is applied, there are high chances it will enter the nails through these pores and destroy the normal growth of the nails.

As for the beauticians who are in constant contact with the paints, she advises them to use protective gear when handling nail polish. Many people react to coloured nail polish but are not aware of it.

"There are people who react to coloured nail polish as this sometimes causes yeast infection, but they may not know what has caused it," Dr Wanyika adds.

She continues: "When you apply polish without giving your nails a break, you are affecting their growth.

Dr Wanyika advises people fond of painting their nails to consult dermatologists and specialists in beauty therapy in order to know what products are good for them.

Beauticians have also increased incidences of asthma and other breathing problems. They are now calling on researchers to conduct studies to examine the effect of nail varnish on health so that they can protect themselves.

Reformulate products

Ideally, nail polish should only be used when necessary. It should not be used throughout the year as this may lead to weak and defective nails due to the chemicals found in the polish.

The good news is that some nail polish manufacturers have reformulated their products to remove the "toxic trio" ingredients, namely dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene.


nail polish dermatology

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