Woman Says Gel Manicure Done Wrong Caused Possible Nerve Damage

If they're not done correctly, gel manicures can harm your health.

ByABC News via logo
June 27, 2010, 7:45 PM

June 28, 2010 — -- Gel manicures are all the rage. Customers ordered them 24 percent more last year, according to a "Nails Magazine" survey.

In a gel manicure, a special solution is applied to your nail and then hardened under a UV light for a longer-lasting manicure.

But as with anything new, there's concern that it may not always be safe. We first heard about this issue from our friends at Consumer Reports.

The gel manicure itself seems to be fine, but there are two problems: Some technicians don't do them right, and some nail salons are passing off other procedures as gel manicures when they're really not.

Imagine a life where everyday tasks are a torture. That's the life Jane Ubell-Meyer has been living.

"I'm in terrible pain," Ubell-Meyer, a gel manicure customer, said.

She said her problems started a few months ago, after she got what she thought was a gel manicure.

"Anything that touched my thumb caused an electric shock, whether it was air or water or just touching very gently. I would get an electric charge that went up my thumb, through my elbow and up to my shoulder," she said.

Ubell-Meyer said she went to an orthopedist, a dermatologist, a chiropractor and more, but none of them believed her manicure could be the cause.

"This is now one, two, three, four doctors already, five doctors, and I was getting frustrated," she said.

So what exactly is a gel manicure? It's supposed to go like this:

First, the technician lightly roughens your nails with a file, then brushes an all-in-one gel onto your nails only, not the skin around them.

Next, the gel hardens under a UV lamp, and finally, the technician removes any residue with a cleanser.

But that's not the type of manicure Ubell-Meyer got, she said. Still suffering, at last she found Dr. Orly Avitzur, a neurologist.

"Will it be difficult for you to remove your jacket?" the neurologist asked Ubell-Meyer on a recent visit.

"It's just too difficult. Every time I put my hand in a sleeve I just get spasms and I just..." Ubell-Meyer said.

Avitzur allowed Ubell-Meyer to leave her jacket on. It turns out that the doctor had gotten her first gel manicure the day before Ubell-Meyer came in, and alarm bells had gone off in her head while the manicurist was working on her hands.