Most people think that an allergy is always something that manifests immediately. That is true for some common allergies, however not in all cases. In fact, the more a person is exposed to a known allergen, the greater there the chance that they will develop an allergy to the substance. This is something that is referred to as a delayed hypersensitivity reaction.
Acrylic products like artificial nails, dentures, and many others, are commonly associated with the development of allergies. There are several components that go into the making of an acrylic product, however we are chiefly concerned with the monomer liquid and the polymer powder. These are the two components that come into contact with the hands of the technicians, beauticians or clients.
The monomer in particular is much more likely to cause an allergic reaction since its constituent molecules are of a smaller size and thus able to penetrate the microscopic gaps in our skin. The polymer is of a larger size and thus less likely to cause an allergy. Similarly, the finished acrylic product too can cause an allergy however since its molecular size is greatly increased, this possibility is reduced.
The hands and nails are the most common areas where an acrylic allergy first becomes apparent. People may notice inflamed, reddish and swollen cuticles. They may itch constantly and become painful after a while as well. Some people also notice a slight burning sensation at the end of their finger tips. The area of the sensitivity usually remains localized to the most commonly contacted area, however some people can have a systemic response as well. A localized skin reaction can also be seen in other parts of the body that you frequently touch your fingers while working, example, the side of your face, eyes or nose.
The first thing is to remove any offending product that you may have applied on your body. Once a person has developed an allergy to acrylic, it almost never goes away. Your doctor may prescribe you a course of anti-histamine medication that will help alleviate the symptoms of the allergic response. You may also be directed towards allergen testing to determine which component or molecule you are allergic to. Patch tests for methyl methacrylate and ethyl acrylate are included as common allergens in most standardized tests.
It is imperative that you avoid all further contact with the detected allergen. In the case of acrylic products, it is sometimes possible to look for alternatives made from other materials, like gel-based nails, or metal denture frameworks. If you are a technician or worker having to deal with monomer, then make sure that you only do so with gloves on. Monomer can quickly penetrate latex gloves so ensure that you are double-gloved or use rubber gloves that will not allow the monomer to pass through. A useful tip is one to wrap your fingers in self adhesive plastic before you wear gloves. This is extremely effective in keeping monomer from the surface of your skin.
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