You are happy with your new gel manicure but start to notice later that your cuticles or fingers start to itch so badly and you wonder why. Cuticles itch after a gel manicure is caused by failure to remove all cuticle remover from the nails. This cuticle remover contains sodium or potassium hydroxide which is used to soften and break down excess skin tissue for easy removal but if left too long it will interact with the lower layer of skin and cause the itchy irritation.

Itchy fingers or cuticles after a gel manicure usually happens to people who do gel manicure at home incorrectly. Let’s find out why.

How to stop itchy fingers or cuticles after gel manicure now

Let’s stop the cuticle itch now and you can come back to this to learn more about the cuticle remover after your itch is gone.

What you need:

  1. A soft nail brush or toothbrush.
  2. Mixture one teaspoon of hand soap with 1/2 gallon of warm water.
  3. Plastic bowl or container big enough to hold the water and both hands with room to spare.
  4. Dry hand towels.


  • Soaking both hands in warm soapy water. Scrub all nails on one hand using a toothbrush with the other hand. Try your best to submerge both hands as you do this. Gently brush all the nails along the cuticle curve in a clockwise circular motion for 1 minute and then counter-clockwise for another minute.
  • Switch and repeat the above step for the other hand.
  • Repeat the two steps above for at least 3 times.
  • By now the cuticle itch should subside. What you just did was removing all the remaining cuticle remover off your cuticles. The cuticle remover got under your cuticle because you were more likely to push it there as you were trying to push back your cuticles.
  • After you do the steps above, you should not have any harsh chemicals from the cuticle remover to cause the nails to itch.
  • If the itch persists, continue soaking and gently brush the cut the cuticles for 2 more minutes.
  • Rinse and gently brush the nails under running tap water for one minute.
  • Wash with cool water and dry.

What is in cuticle remover that causes the itch

Most cuticle remover on the market contains some chemical products that can break down or soften the cuticles. These products are designed so they should stay on the cuticles for a few minutes and must be removed completely before they go deeper to lower layers of skin or cuticles.

Cuticle removers are liquids or creams that contain alkaline chemicals to destroy the skin around the cuticle. The chemicals used are usually sodium or potassium hydroxide. If applied and left on for too long they can cause an itch that is one form of irritant contact dermatitisOpens in a new tab..

SourceOpens in a new tab.

Why cuticle remover causes the itch

Most cuticle remover manufacturers do provide instructions on how to use their products on the label affixed to the outside of containers.

Because these bottles are relatively small and so is the instruction so many people who buy this product do not bother to read follow the instructions. To make this matter worse, many people who make how-to videos on the internet either forget or skip to remind their viewers of washing off all excess cuticle remover.

This makes the people who watch their video erroneously think that cuticle remover is safe if left on their skin or cuticles.

Who makes your cuticle to itch

Your guess is right! It is the person who held the pusher to push the cuticle remover deep under your cuticles. No one came close to your cuticles other than yourself. You are caught red-handed or more appropriate, wet-handed.

When cuticle remover causes the itch

The cuticle remover will take some time to break down the top layer of the skin. When it comes in contact with the lower layer of skin or cuticles, it will start to come in contact with live skin where sensor endings are and that is when you will feel the itch.

How to prevent cuticle remover from causing the itch

If you have the itch from after you do a full gel manicure at home, chances are you did not read the how-to-use instruction section on this little innocent-looking bottle. To prevent this itch from happening again, you should:

Read product instruction for cuticle remover before using.

Remove and wash off all remaining cuticle remover on your nails after 5 minutes if you apply directly to your skin. But from reading this, I do not think you want to do that again. Here is the second option.

Put about 10 drops of cuticle remover in water and soak your hands in this mixture using a finger bowl when you do your manicure. Don’t worry the skin on your hand is much thicker than that underneath your cuticles so it can tolerate this mixture.

Either way, do rinse and wash any remaining cuticle remover off with clean running water to be sure your cuticles are free of these harsh chemicals.

Gel polish can trap cuticle remover to cause the itch

In some instances, gel polish applied over the cuticles will also cause the itch because the chemicals in the polish will come in contact with the skin and cuticles and irritate them.

Two ways to use cuticle remover

Indirect way:

Put 5 drops in finger bowl and soak for a few minutes. This method is used by many nail salons. It gives the customers a few minutes to relax and give their cuticles to soften. In our salon, we add a few drops of hand soap and cuticle softer which is less evasive that cuticle remover in the soaking water and do not apply it directly to the cuticles. This is an age-old method.

Direct way:

Apply on cuticle for no more than 1 minute. One hand at a time. Wash and rinse and brush off all remaining cuticle under warm running water. This is a general instruction for most cuticle removers but be sure to read and follow the instructions of your specific cuticle remover.

Recently many nail salons implement a dry manicure service in which there is no soaking water. They employ this harsher cuticle remover and apply it directly to the customers’ nails. By trying to push the cuticles back, they unknowingly push this harsh chemical to the thinnest and most sensitive part under the cuticles.

No matter how careful or thorough your manicurist is, she will never be able to get rid of all the cuticle remover she pushed deep under your cuticles and will cause the itch later on. The same thing will happen if you do it at home too.

So I recommend you opt for a “wet” manicure either at home or a salon because of the risks embedded and refuse to accept a dry manicure service at a nail salon because you know a nail technician will apply a strong cuticle remover is applied directly to your cuticles.

Better yet, you can do your gel manicure without any cuticle remover.

You can do your gel manicure without cuticle remover

For most of us, we have normal skin and cuticle growth. This means that trimming or cutting any cuticles in two weeks or so is not necessary.

If you belong in this group of people you are one of the lucky ones. As you do your gel manicure at home, all you need is to gently push back your cuticles and minimal cuticle trimming is even needed.

For many customers, we do not cut or trim their cuticles because they are in perfect shape already. Any attempt to trim or cut will ruin their conditions.

So for most of us, we do not have to even cut or trim our cuticle all the time. Then we do not need any cuticle remover every time we do our manicure.

How to soften your cuticles naturally

The most basic natural cuticle softener is a mixture of warm water and a few drops or mild hand soap.

Another way to soften cuticles is after a shower or a bath, washing dishes. After your cuticles are wet for 10 minutes or so, they become soft enough so you can push them back safely.

As your cuticles are softened this way, scrubbing them with a nail brush will keep you from having to push back, cut or trim them at all.

So now you know what cuticle remover is and what it can do to your cuticles. In case you have to use it, do practice safety caution: too much of a good thing is usually not good for you.

Except money!

You can get help if you have bad itchy cuticles after gel nails

If your gel nails itch late in the day and you can not call your doctor or you are too far from one and the itch bothers you so much, you can get help online and get the answer by chatting with one of the medical experts. You can send pictures of your nails’ conditions through text message and get an accurate assessment for your particular situation.

JUSTANSWER.COMOpens in a new tab. will connect you to a highly experienced dermatologists. For a nominal fee that is less than a doctor’s visit and no appointment needed, they can point you to the right action or treatment that will ease your pain.

If you nails itch so badly, do not wait. You should consult with one of the dermatologists so they can give specific recommendations for your nails to prevent possible infection later.

It is a small price to pay for an expert’s consultation and infection prevention.

If you find this article helpful and it might help someone you know, please share or pin it to spread the words.

Happy gelling.

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