Can You Get an Infection From a Dip Powder Manicure?

You might want to read this before you book your salon appointment.

Dip powder manicures have become increasingly popular over the last few years, but according to one woman who tried the popular manicure technique, they can also be hazardous to your health.

In 2019, the woman, who chose only to be identified as Bethany, visited a Greensboro, NC salon to get a dip powder manicure. While there, she said a nail technician accidentally cut her finger while filing her nails, then dipped her finger into the powder container to complete the process.

"I noticed about a week later I had little spots go up [around a few nails] and tried creams over-the-counter and then soaked them in alcohol and peroxide, and it just kept getting worse," she told WFMY News 2.

Eventually, Bethany said her nails started to swell, bleed, and ooze pus. That's when she went to a doctor, who diagnosed her with a fungal infection.

Young Woman Getting Manicure Done At Nail Salon

Javier Sánchez Mingorance / EyeEm/Getty Images

Editor's Note

This article contains sensitive medical imagery.

Can You Get a Fungal Infection From a Dip Powder Manicure?

One of the reasons a dip manicure exposes you to a potential fungal infection is because the nail is "roughed up and sandpapered" before being placed in the dip, Cheryl Karcher, MD, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, practicing both cosmetic and medical dermatology, told Health.

"The metal piece of equipment they use to sandpaper down your nail can be dangerous if not used properly—if it cuts the skin there's always going to be a chance for infection," said Dr. Karcher.

According to Dr. Karcher, the North Carolina woman's infection likely stemmed from the cut on her finger. "The original injury was the cut to the skin, not necessarily caused by the dip powder," said Dr. Karcher.

Even so, according to WFMY News 2, nail technicians in North Carolina aren't supposed to dip your entire finger into the powder containers, due to the risk of infection. "Our rules are very clear indicating once a product has come into contact with the client, it has to be thrown away," said Lynda Elliott, Executive Director of the NC Board of Cosmetic Art Examiner.

Dr. Karcher, however, said that's not always the case. "I have literally seen all nails dipped in the original container and put back on the shelf."

Ultimately, said Dr. Karcher, the more important issue for safety is the sandpapering of the nail. "If this touches the skin and/or the cuticle around the nail, an infection is very likely to happen."


How To Stay Safe During Dip Manicures

Dip manicures are durable manicures that can last for up to four weeks. To help you keep your nails healthy, the American Academy of Dermatologists recommends the following measures:

  • Leave your cuticles alone. Cutting or pushing back your cuticles, can lead to a serious infection. Ask your nail technician to leave your cuticles alone.
  • Skip the “double dip.” When you dip your nails into a container that other people have dipped their fingers into, you are double dipping and can pick up an infection from someone who previously dipped their fingers into these containers.
  • Get one dip nail your first time. Some people develop an allergic reaction to the dip nail products. Adhesives, which are used to hold the powders in place, are the main culprit.
  • Give your nails time to recover after each dip powder manicure. To remove these manicures, you need to put 100% acetone on your nails, which peels off layers of nail and thins the nails over time.

In addition, you should always make sure you are examining your bare nails between manicures. If you're accustomed to back-to-back color, then check your nails for changes each time the color comes off. If you see any of the following changes to your nail or the skin around a nail after removing the color, skip the rest of your manicure:

  • Nail lifting up
  • The skin around one or more nails looks swollen or discolored
  • Thickening nail
  • Discolored nail
  • Any change to the skin around a nail, to the nail, or the skin under a nail

Treatment for Nail Fungal Infections

Only a healthcare provider can diagnose a fungal infection of the nails or skin around the nails. Your healthcare provider will look at your nails and the skin around the nails, and samples of both may be taken to confirm the diagnosis. In severe cases, you may have to see a dermatologist, or a skin specialist.

Treatment usually starts by removing as much of the fungus as possible by trimming off the infected nail. After this, you'll need to use a topical or oral medication, depending on the severity of the infection, to get rid of the fungus completely.

If you have a mild infection, you'll need to apply medicine to the infected nails. The side effects of these topical medications are usually mild, ranging from redness and swelling to an ingrown toenail. The biggest issue with using these medications is to keep using them as directed until the nail grows back completely. It takes about four to six months for fingernails to grow back in, while toenails take about 12 to 18 months.

If the nail infection is more serious, you may also need to take oral medication. On average, you'll have to take the medication for two months for fingernail fungus or three months for toenail fungus. But these medicines have more side effects, so your bloodwork will have to be monitored to make sure you stay healthy.

A Quick Review

A dip powder manicure is a durable manicure that can be safe if the proper procedures for health and safety are followed. If you're set on getting a nail dip manicure, make sure the salon is following the best practices recommended by the AAD or skip the manicure.

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  1. WFMYNEWS2. Red, Puffy, and Oozing Pus: Triad Woman Claims Trip to Nail Salon Left Her With a Fungal Infection.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. DIP POWDER MANICURE: 5 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR NAILS HEALTHY.

  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Nail Fungus: Diagnosis and Treatment.

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