Nut Allergy and the Nail Salon

in Food Allergy, Managing Allergies, Peanut & Tree Nut

Nut Allergy and the Nail Salon: Is Sweet Almond Oil Safe?Photo: Getty
A quick manicure at your local nail salon or spa can be a relaxing pick-me-up, but don’t get too lulled by the pampering.

Many manicurists massage conditioning oil into your hands to moisturize your cuticles and nails. A common ingredient in cuticle softener? Sweet almond oil.

According to South Carolina salon owner Rosanne Kinley, a past president of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology, sweet almond oil is commonly used by manicurists because it’s effective. Another reason, she says, is that “it has an extremely long shelf life.”

Weighing Sweet Almond Oil Risks

But what if you are allergic to almond or other tree nuts? Is almond oil safe?

Allergists told Allergic Living that it’s difficult to know just how much almond protein is in these oils after the manufacturing process. It’s likely there isn’t much, they say.

If that’s the case, and the product is only being applied to the nail surface, “it would be unlikely to be of any significant risk,” says Dr. Scott Sicherer, a New York City allergist. That said, Sicherer notes that soaking your fingers in almond oil could cause skin irritation.

And, if you are extremely allergic to almond – meaning that you react even to very small amounts – and if bite your nails or cuticles (meaning that you might ingest the oil), your allergist may counsel complete avoidance.

Discuss the matter with your own doctor. But Allergic Living suggests a simple solution in the meantime: Bring some safe-for-you oil (olive, grape seed, canola, safflower, coconut) to your next manicure to use as an alternative.

Sloane Miller is a food allergy counselor and author of the book Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies. Visit her website here.