Nail Glue

Is Nail Glue Toxic

There is no off-season when it comes to DIY nails. Every trial can lead to utter disaster or a work of art that can last for weeks. And whether you need to repair a broken nail or apply your fake nails, there’s no denying you would need nail glue. 

The sight of nail glue in your press-on kit may be so familiar to you that you wouldn’t even bother asking if it is harmful. But since you are here, you might be wondering now. 

Is nail glue toxic? Will it do more damage than you could expect? 

Knowledge is power, and in this case, you should arm yourself with the proper knowledge to enjoy your DIY session without anxiety.

How safe is nail glue?

How safe is nail glue

Naturally, one can assume that any beauty product, supplementary tools included, is generally safe. 

Indeed, someone in the regulating agencies did their research and quality control. So, technically, all you need to do is read the instructions and follow them.

Nail glues are safe. 

Yes, you heard it right! 

And before you protest with what you heard in the rumor mill, it might be best to consider that this is only applicable if (1) you are not allergic to any ingredients of nail glue, (2) you have healthy nails, and (3) you have followed instructions, especially, on how to remove them.

If you love artificial nails and are sporting them regularly, your nails are more likely prone to infection. When you don’t let them breathe, everything can seem unsafe for them. This is true as well when you remove them harshly.

And how about the ingredients of nail glue? You may have heard that it’s the same as superglues, which made you concerned.

Ethyl cyanoacrylate is the main ingredient in both nail and super glues. However, there are lower concentrations in the former— which is why it is less viscous. Besides, nail glues have additives that make them more flexible and easier to use on nails.

Is ethyl cyanoacrylate in nail glues safe?

Ethyl cyanoacrylate is a widely-used adhesive.

 According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, it can cause skin and eye irritation. With lethal concentration, it can also have acute toxicity

Thankfully for you, your nail glue doesn’t contain alarming levels of this ingredient. 

Nail glues, when applied correctly, won’t cause adverse effects. 

But of course, you and everyone else can make mistakes, and accidents happen. You may find yourself reaching for the first aid kit or even going to the hospital on such occasions.

Is nail glue toxic to the skin?

Is nail glue toxic to the skin

First, you need to define toxicity for clarity. Toxicity is defined medically as the degree to which a substance can cause harm to humans and animals. 

By that, the answer is yes. 

A case study found that skin is the most common route of exposure to cyanoacrylate. Spillage and accidental exposure to children are especially alarming since this can result in chemical burns.

Cyanoacrylate, when in contact with moisture, produces an exothermic reaction. The heat released can create holes in the fabric and even cause a fire. For example, when nail glue spills in your jeans, it can burn through your fabric and skin.

It’s easy to say, “prevention is better than cure”, but everyone has their oops moments. You can’t always set your alert levels at max, albeit the preferable option. 

Whether it is skin irritation or a more severe case of chemical burns, it’s best to go to the doctor to prevent further complications.

Is nail glue toxic to the mouth?

As an adult, you may think it absurd that there could ever be a circumstance where you will intentionally ingest nail glue. 

But it is different when it involves children. You may have heard the news that a child swallowed nail glue, and it terrified you. 

There is little literature or case study on the effect of nail glue on the mouth. It is not a highly publicized medical dilemma. It can be that the patient is asymptomatic or the symptoms are mild enough not to merit a hospital visit. 

When accidentally swallowed, the glue hardens quickly in the mouth and can leave solidified residue attached to the teeth or mouth.

In such cases, margarine can help soften the glue until you can peel them off gently. Saliva also lifts the glue naturally within 1-2 days. If bonded to gums and teeth, your best bet is to seek medical assistance.

The same study mentioned above found mild gastrointestinal effects after ingestion. Cases of severe poisoning from ingesting large amounts of glue may cause abdominal pain and gastrointestinal blockage. 

Can nail glue get into the bloodstream?

In 2015, HuffPost reported that TPP, a chemical in nail polish, can leach into the bloodstream and disrupt the hormones in our body. Honestly, overlooking warning labels is everyone’s secret bad habit, but findings like this eventually lead to doubt. 

It’s nail polish now, but what’s next? Perhaps that nail glue you are reaching for is the next breaking news. 

Thankfully, nail glues harden quickly. Unlike TPP, no literature has reported cyanoacrylate as capable of being absorbed into the bloodstream.

In fact, a study used medical-grade cyanoacrylate for non-suture closure. The use of this glue even showed less infection than the sutured wounds. Although it is slightly different in composition from nail glue, the fact remains that it does not remain liquid for long and would set before any severe effect within blood contact. 

One can hypothesize that the glue may cause blockage in the blood vessel should it ever be in the bloodstream. Although such a scenario is more imagination, relying on various factors to be set right, rather than a plausible scenario. 

Can nail glue kill you?

No, it can’t. There has been no report of that severity level involving nail glue— common ways of exposure, including dermal and oral, only documented mild gastrointestinal complications and nothing more. 

But just because it cannot murder you by simple touch shouldn’t mean it can’t injure you. It can cause first and second-degree burns, swelling, skin damage, and glued skin. 

Here are some tips that you may want to keep in mind when you find yourself in a sticky situation, literally. 

For light situations involving glued skin, you can use acetone-based nail remover to get the glue off the skin. 

If that’s not available, you can try and wash it off with warm water and soap for about 15 minutes. Oil-based substances are also known to help remove adhesives, so a bottle of petroleum jelly would help if you got a spot of nail glue on your skin. 

For mild situations such as allergic contact dermatitis, it’s best to stay away from the nail glue. According to WebMD, you can soothe your skin with mild soap and cool water. 

Moreover, oral histamine puts the itching at bay, so you should get hold of it as soon as possible.

Consult a physician in more complicated situations like burns or abdominal pains caused by ingestion. 

Nail glues aren’t harmful, but they may still cause you a trip to the hospital if you are not careful with how you handle them.

Is nail glue toxic to dogs?

One of the most horrifying scenes is probably your dog swallowing something harmful. It’s like a thriller movie in slow motion. The worst part? They refuse to part with it.

If your dog has ingested nail glue, you should watch out for symptoms including drooling, vomiting, retching, or when they paw at their mouth. If they just came in contact with it, you may see remnants of dried glue in their fur or skin. 

Ingesting a small dose of glue shouldn’t raise the highest alarm. As it does to humans, so will it to dogs. Nail glue will harden once in contact with saliva and may dry in the gums, tongue, and hard palate before there’s a chance of swallowing it.

On the other hand, large doses may cause blockage in the throat, which results in difficulty in swallowing and breathing. 

If nail glue comes in contact with your dog’s eye, you need to rinse it with saline or water. 

On the other hand, if the skin is exposed, it might need clipping the hair and loosening the glue with oil-based home remedies. 

Ear exposure might be trickier to treat. You can try to ease the bond with acetone, but you have to ensure that you flush it with sterile water afterward.

At most, nail glue should only be mildly detrimental to your dog as it is for you. If you doubt the steps you should take, ask for your veterinarian’s recommendations.

Is there a non-toxic glue available?

Is there a non-toxic glue available

FYI, the basis of nail glue’s toxicity is circumstantial at best. By itself and without accidents, there should be no cause for concern. 

However, perhaps you find that the existing nail glue on the market is too toxic for your liking. Sadly, there is no safer and “non-toxic” option other than ethyl cyanoacrylate in nail glues. 

Instead, you may prefer double-sided tapes when using press-on nails. You can also get creative with the DIY nail glues that are one Google search away.

So while you wait for science to catch up with a vegan option with the same long-lasting and reliable quality as the current nail glues on the market, you can check out alternatives instead so you won’t have to ditch your fake nails forever. 

CHECK OUT: Nail Glue Alternatives


You are not alone in your apprehension towards nail glue. 

No matter how careful you are, accidents may happen, proving how toxic nail glues are to your body. 

But be assured that the published reports only imply acute toxicity for skin and oral incidents.

Nevertheless, mindfulness is the key to avoiding rare occasions involving more severe conditions. Don’t fear! Just remember the warning labels! 

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