When you’re doing someone’s nail, you don’t think about the dangers of nail dust. It’s such a small quantity! How can it affect anyone?

But, here’s the thing:

If you’re doing nails all day, over weeks or months, the dust and vapours collect inside the salon  (or your designated room, if you run a salon from home). This dust settles down on surfaces and will go up in a cloud every time you disturb it. You could probably sweep it or hoover it up, but it’s nearly impossible to get all of it.

But, you say, how does it matter? It’s just nail dust, isn’t it? Everyone has nails. What’s so dangerous about them?

Well, let’s find out!

Why Is Nail Dust Dangerous?

Very fine nail dust can get into your nose, lungs, and eyes, causing irritation and possibly causing allergic hypersensitivity. It may also contain microbial debris and fungal elements.

In fact, here’s a list of the ‘ingredients’ of nail dust:

  • Keratin (the protein that nails, as well as hair, are made of)
  • Keratin hydrolysates
  • Chemicals from nail polishes
  • Acrylics (in case of artificial nails)
  • Microorganisms (fungi, including dermatophytes, saprophytes, etc.)

Nail dust is made up of particles of nails, particles of nail polish (if the nails were painted), or acrylics (from artificial nails), and some of these particles can be quite small. If you think about how thin a strand of your hair is, some of the dust particles can be smaller than that thickness!

Large Nail Dust Particles

nail technician doing nails of a client and both their hands are covered with nail dust

Larger dust particles don’t stay in the air for very long. They fly up when you’re filing the nails, and then settle down almost immediately because they are too heavy.

Even if you do inhale them when you breathe, the hair in your nose can stop them before they get into the nasal passage.

Small Nail Dust Particles

Smaller particles, on the other hand, can stay floating in the air for longer. They are also more likely to pass through the nasal hair. These particles can end up in your respiratory passage, which is the connection between your nose and lungs, and irritate it.

Ultra Fine Nail Dust Particles

Even more dangerous are ultra-fine particles, which stay afloat in the air for even longer. These can’t be stopped by the nose hair at all and can go right through your respiratory passage into your lungs. Here, they can get into the lung tissue, or even pass through them to get into your bloodstream.

Microbial and Fungal Debris

Nails can carry certain types of fungi and bacteria, which can’t infect your lungs per se, but these are usually quite small and can get inside your nasal passage. They can lead to irritation and asthma.

What Are the Health Effects of Nail Dust?

As we mentioned earlier, nail dust can get inside your body and irritate your eyes, nose, and lungs.

Long-term irritation of the eyes can lead to itching, tearing, redness or inflammation, or even conjunctivitis.

Inside the nose, nail dust can cause itching, sneezing, and rhinitis (inflammation of the nose – ‘rhinitis’ and ‘rhinoceros’ both come from the same root word, which means ‘nose’!)

Nail dust irritates the respiratory passage, potentially leading to asthma. It may also lead to allergic hypersensitivity, which is a long-winded way of saying it can cause an irreversible allergy to nail dust. Thus, every time you’re exposed to it, you will immediately start feeling the allergy symptoms, which could include difficulty in breathing.

How Do You Protect Yourself From Nail Dust in Salons?

You can protect yourself from the ill-effects of nail dust by using personal protection equipment and by removing the dust as it is generated.

Nail technician wearing purple gloves polishing coated nails and nail dust flying

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protection simply means protecting your body from the dust. You can do so with:

  • Eye protection glasses: Protective glasses keep the dust away from your eyes.
  • Gloves: Gloves keep the fine dust off your hands, and you can wash it off after the nail treatment.
  • Face masks: Facemasks block the dust, so it doesn’t enter your nose.

Extraction Systems

While personal protection equipment can keep you safe from nail dust to some extent, you need to have extraction equipment that will collect the dust at the source so it doesn’t remain airborne.

At VODEX, we offer a range of extraction systems for beauty salons, including the SalonAIR® 1001 unit. This is an at-source nail dust extraction solution that has a flexible ‘arm’ you can position over the nails as you file them. It ‘sucks’ the dust as it is created.

You can upgrade it to include a FileOWAY® attachment. This device sits on the table with your client’s hand resting on it. Then, when you file their nails, its suction pulls the dust into the machine, so both you and your client are protected.

If you choose FileOTRAY® as your preferred attachment, you can convert your table into an extraction unit!

If you have any questions about if this extraction solution is right for you, give us a call on 01489 899 070 or send us an email. We will give you the information you need to make the right choice for your beauty salon!

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