British Lung Foundation
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Nail varnish?

Good morning everyone. I wondered if anyone has any opinion on nail varnish. I am off for a manicure this morning and think I will be having a lovely Christmas red varnish on today. On Thursday my resp nurse will recoil in horror and refuse to do my sats she says the pigment in the varnish makes the meter give wrong readings, but if I go to the Chest Clinic the nurses there say no problem

14 Replies

I have an opinion. Great on other people but I cant stand the cloggy feling it gives me. I immediately want to take it off. Shame really


I don't mind seeing it on people I just can't stand the smell of the stuff. It tightens my chest something terrible.


Hi Polly

YEAH go for the red - it would be rude not to. Have a lovely Christmas.

Love C XXX


Go for the red, how wonderful, you cant live for being ill and if the nurse really objects she can take a sat's reading from your earlobe so she is just making an unnecessary fuss. Happy christmas red sounds fantastic. Good luck xxx


I always wear clear polish - never been an issue when I have had my SATS taken.

Enjoy your manicure and go for the seasonal red!

Marie x


Hi polly,

red is my most fevorite colour ever, but in nail varnish i like pastal colours like pale pinks

and peach colours like that,

i think your nurse is being abit funny your not hurting anybody are you,

rose xxx


go for it!!! a beautiful manicure will make you feel beautiful ( and blow the nurse I've had my sats done with and without...and even with makes no diff....she can always use a toe if she's that bothered!


You go for the red girl! Enjoy!


I also use clear polish Marie WF and it has never posed a problem. I think it may depend on the type of polish? Anyway, as others have said, if there is a problem she can always test elsewhere. :)


Wearing nail polish can give false readings if using a finger pulse oximeter:

Scroll down to Souces of error where it states among other things:

•Nail polish should be removed, as it may cause false readings.[12]


I am lucky enough to have beautiful nails (unlike the rest of me) and for my wedding in March I had Shellac polish done. It lasted months, in fact I had to fill in the bottom as it grew out. It looked wonderful and made me feel great. When I was taken into hospital in New Zealand (great honeymoon!!) the nurse thought they were false nails and wanted to take one off. I said they were welcome to take the varnish off but they didn't have a problem at all, and shellac must be prety solid stuff.

Go for the Christmas red, ask about Shellac, or Gel some call it.


Some articles recommend its removal whilst others do not. A 2007 research paper setting out the analysis of results found after testing 50 critically ill patients in a university hospital in Germany states:


Nail polish does not alter pulse oximetry readings in mechanically ventilated patients to a clinically relevant extent. The mean error of measurement for all colours [of polish] was within the oximeter manufacturers' specified range of +/-2%."

Seems like with most things "you pays your money and you takes your choice."


I can't comment on the medical implications of nail polish but I say go for it! If having your nails done makes you feel better within yourself and gives you a bit of Christmas spirit then it's got to be worth it.

Too often, when people have chronic illnesses, they lose a sense of their masculinity or femininity and become defined by their condition. It therefore becomes so easy to wallow in that definition and not bother too much about our appearance so anything that can give you a sense of self worth and reaffirm your identity then it's got to be worth doing.


When I went for testing to see if I needed oxygen for a flight they would not test me with nail varnish on and I had to come back a week later. So I didn't wear nail varnish any more. The info given by you is quite interesting - now I can wear nail varnish and tell them it is a load of rubbish!


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