Can Nurses Have Acrylic Nails? Can Nurses Have Acrylic Nails?

Can Nurses Have Acrylic Nails?

Most health facilities around the world do not allow nurses to wear artificial nails or any other nail enhancements such as; gel nails or dup powered nails. Nurses are typically required to maintain a nail length of no longer than 1/4 inch. Hygiene and patient safety are prioritized, ensuring compliance with these guidelines.

Nails can be pretty and alluring. To some , long nails are another way to express personality and show off individuality. Well, what about if you are in a medical profession precisely nursing, are you allowed to have acrylic nails or any type of nail enhancement?

Most health facilities around the world do not allow nurses to wear artificial nails or any other nail enhancements such as; gel nails or dip powered nails. Nurses are typically required to maintain a nail length of no longer than 1/4 inch. Hygiene and patient safety are prioritized, ensuring compliance with these guidelines.

This article will highlight why you are not allowed to have artificial nails , it will also discuss in details the importance of hand hygiene in nursing practice and explore the potential risks associated with acrylic nails for nurses while fulfilling their crucial healthcare responsibilities.

Recommended Posts

What Are the Rules and Guidelines Pertaining to Nail Length, Polish and Acrylic Nails for Nurses?

In the healthcare field, specific regulations and guidelines exist concerning nail length, nail polish, and the use of acrylic nails for nurses.. To comply with medical regulations, these guidelines are implemented to ensure optimal hygiene and prevent the risk of cross-contamination;

1) Short Nail Length, Not Longer than 1/4 Inch in Length

Nurses are encouraged to keep short nails( a quarter inch beyond finger tips ) due to several reasons related to hygiene and infection control. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) has conducted research on this to give valuable insights into the importance of maintaining short nails in healthcare settings;

  • Improved Hand Hygiene: Short nails facilitate thorough handwashing which allow for effective removal of dirt, debris, and potentially harmful microorganisms. . According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing (NCBI source), the length of healthcare workers’ nails was examined to determine the potential impact on hand hygiene and bacterial colonization. The research findings indicated that shorter nails minimize the spread of pathogens.
  • Reduced Bacterial Reservoir: Longer nails provide additional surface area for bacteria to accumulate and multiply. CDC indicates that longer nails were more likely to harbour bacteria, including potential when compared to shorter nails. This study concluded that shorter nails were associated with reduced bacterial colonization and a decreased risk of infection transmission. Trimming nails to a shorter length also minimized the likelihood of bacterial reservoirs and enhances overall hygiene.
  • Decreased Risk of Contamination: The presence of longer nails also increases the risk of transferring microorganisms from the hands to patients, surfaces, or medical equipment. Short nails help mitigate this risk by reducing the potential for bacterial shedding and contamination during routine patient care activities.
  • Enhanced Glove Integrity: Nurses frequently wear gloves during patient care to maintain aseptic conditions. In the case of long nails , they can compromise the integrity of gloves by increasing the likelihood of glove punctures or tears. By keeping nails short, nurses can ensure a proper glove fit, minimizing the risk of cross-contamination( Source: Nail Mag)

Keenly adhering to these medical justifications and following the established guidelines on nail length is crucial for nurses to uphold the highest standards of hygiene, minimize infection risks, and prioritize patient well-being in healthcare settings.

2) No Nail Polish, Unless it is Chip- Free

Nurses are generally discouraged from wearing nail polish especially when it is chipped or old because it can hinder healthcare workers’ ability to carry out effective hand hygiene. This can result in pathogens persisting in the worn areas of the nail polish, potentially compromising infection control measures( Source). As a result, healthcare facilities are only encouraged to wear chip-free nail polish.

Best Overall Chip-Free Nail Polish For Nurses: Christian Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer

3) No artificial Enhancements Including Acrylic Nails While on Duty

The main reason why nurses are often advised against wearing artificial nails including acrylic nails while on duty is that they can pose a risk of injury to both the nurse and the patient. Acrylic nails, being longer and harder than natural nails can accidentally scratch or cause harm to patients during procedures or physical examinations.

Why are Nurses Not Allowed to Have Acrylic Nails or any Other Nail Enhancement While on Duty?

Nurses are typically not allowed to have acrylic nails or any other nail enhancements while on duty due to various medical reasons. Here are three key points explaining this restriction:

  • 100% Total Infection Control: The primary concern is maintaining optimal infection control practices in healthcare settings.
  • Hand Hygiene Effectiveness: The reason why nail enhancements are not allowed is to prevent the spread of pathogens. For example; rough surfaces of acrylic nails can be a breeding ground for microorganisms which make it even harder to remove during handwashing. This can compromise hand hygiene compliance and increase the risk of cross-contamination in healthcare settings.
  • Patient Safety: Nurses have a responsibility to prioritize patient safety in their care. Sharp or jagged edges of acrylic nails can accidentally scratch or puncture the skin of a patient and likely increase the likelihood of infections or other complications. This is another reason why nurses are not allowed to have any kind of nail enhancements while on duty.

What Is the Recommended Nail Length for Nurses?

The recommended nail length for healthcare workers, including nurses is a quarter inch in length ( Source: CDC). Maintaining nails at this specific length facilitates thorough cleaning of the hands and prevents the accumulation of bacteria or pathogens underneath the nails. This shorter nail length also reduces the risk of accidental scratching or injury to patients during patient care activities.

Can Nurses Have Acrylic Nails in the USA ?

In the United States of America, nurses are prohibited from wearing artificial nails, gel nails or any kind of nail enhancement while on duty. In accordance with CDC guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of germs and nail infections, nails should be short(a quarter inch in length ) and clean.

Are Nurses Allowed To Have Acrylic Nails In UK?

According to NHS , nurses in the UK are generally not permitted to have nail polish, acrylic nails, gel nails or dip powered nails. It is recommended that fingernails should be kept short and free of varnish. A survey conducted by Cardiff University and London’s City University revealed concerning findings regarding infection control breaches by healthcare staff, including issues related to hand hygiene and nail care.

The survey involved 488 participating students who reported witnessing at least one violation of infection control rules by healthcare personnel. The researchers, publishing their findings in the American Journal of Infection Control, emphasized the widespread nature of these lapses.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) representative, Tom Sandford, emphasized the importance of short, varnish-free fingernails and highlighted that false nails should not be worn. Nail varnish and extensions were identified as potential sources of bacteria and barriers to good hand hygiene. Sandford further stressed the need for health organizations to establish clear local policies on uniforms, work-wear, and their implications for infection control and health and safety.

What Nail Enhancements Can You Have as a Nurse? Safe Alternatives For Nurses?

In the United Kingdom, a nurse is prohibited from wearing any nail enhancement such as artificial nails, gel nails or nail polish while on duty. However, In the United States , nurses can wear only chip-free nail varnish and the nail length should not be longer than 1/4 inch. If you are a nurse living in the U.S and you’d prefer to have some form of nail enhancement while adhering to infection control guidelines, these are safe alternatives for nurses to consider:

  • Clear or Neutral Nail Polish: Go for for clear or neutral shades of nail polish that are not distracting or easily noticeable without violating workplace policies. I recommend Vishine Gel Nail Polish
  • Breathable Nail Polish: Look for breathable nail polish options that allow air and moisture to pass through the nails. For the most part, this help prevent moisture build up and reduce the risk of fungal infections. Orly Breathable polish is chip-free and non-toxic. I totally vouch for it.
  • Nail Wraps: You can also consider using nail wraps that provide a protective barrier for your natural nails without the need for extensions or acrylic materials. Adora Couture Semi Cured Gel Nail Strips  are available in various designs and can be a safer alternative for decorative nails.
  • Gel Manicures with LED Curing: If you prefer a longer-lasting manicure, you can opt for gel manicures with LED curing. These manicures provide a glossy finish and can last for a few weeks without the use of acrylic materials. Ensure that the nail length should not exceed 1/4 inch.

Expert Advice: Consult your workplace policies and guidelines to determine which alternatives are acceptable. Remember, patient safety and infection control come first and should be prioritized when choosing any form of nail enhancement as a nurse.

Best Value For Your Buck: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat, Clear 

Can Nurses Wear Acrylic Nails While Wearing Gloves?

It is commonly stated for nurses not to wear acrylic nails while wearing gloves. The use of acrylic nails can compromise the integrity of gloves and increase the risk of glove punctures or tears. In many healthcare settings, there is a standard policy regarding nail length and the use of artificial nails-nails should not exceed a length of one quarter inch past the end of the fingers .These policies are typically outlined during orientation and apply to all nurses working in hospitals, agencies, or similar healthcare facilities.

How to Keep Your Nails Looking Their Best as a Nurse ?

It is essential to maintain the appearance and health of your nails as a nurse. I have put up these tips to help you keep your nails looking their absolute best:

  • Keep Your Nails Clean: Regularly clean your nails with mild soap and water to remove dirt and debris. Pay attention to the undersides of your nails as well.
  • Trim Nails Regularly: Trim your nails to a manageable length that does not exceed a quarter inch past the fingertips. Shorter nails are easier to maintain and less likely to get in the way during patient care activities.
  • Moisturize Always :This is a no brainer, apply a moisturizing hand cream or cuticle oil regularly to keep your nails and surrounding skin hydrated.
  • Protect your nails: You should also wear gloves whenever necessary to protect your nails from chemicals, harsh cleaning agents, or excessive moisture. This helps prevent damage and maintain their appearance in the long run.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Limit exposure to harsh chemicals and detergents such as use of acetone that can weaken and discolour your nails.
  • Use a base coat: When applying nail polish, you should first apply a quality base coat to protect your nails from staining.
  • Choose nail-friendly beatable polish: Your best bet is a breathable nail polish that are free of harsh chemicals. These polishes are less likely to cause damage or yellowing of the nails.
  • Give your nails breaks: Yeah, that’s right ! Occasionally, allow your nails to breathe by going without polish for a few days even weeks .This promotes nail health.

That’s it queens, by following these tips, you can maintain beautiful, neat and healthy nails as a nurse.

Are the Rules Regarding Nail Polish for Nurses the Same in All Countries?

The rules regarding nail polish for nurses can vary between countries. Here is a table outlining the general stance on nail enhancements for nurses in different countries:


Nail Enhancement Policy for Nurses

United States

CDC discourages and prohibits nurses from wearing acrylic nails due to concerns over hygiene and patient safety. Clear chip free polish is allowed in some states . The nail length should be not longer than a quarter inch( Source: CDC). 

United Kingdom

NHS advises that nurses should have short and varnish-free fingernails. Wearing false nails is generally not permitted due to infection control and hand hygiene considerations( Source)


Policies may vary between provinces and healthcare facilities. Generally,Alberta Health Services  advices nurses to wear always short and clean nails .Tse of  polish is  also allowed only if it is chip free and freshly applied( Source)


Hand Hygiene Australia Prohibits use of any nail polish or any other nail enhancement such as; acrylics, gel nails , etc  for nurses.


In Germany, nurses are typically advised to maintain short and  very clean nails, with restrictions on the use of artificial enhancements like acrylic nails due to hygiene and patient safety considerations(Source).


In Frances , nurses are also not allowed to wear any nail enhancements Including  acrylic nails wile on duty( Source).


The Netherlands advices nurses  to keep their nails short, clean, and free of artificial enhancements like acrylic nails for optimal hand hygiene and  total infection control ( Source).


Recommendations typically emphasize the importance of short and clean nails for nurses, with restrictions on the use of artificial enhancements such as acrylic nails to maintain hygiene and patient safety.


Japan Healthcare facilities encourage nurses to maintain short and clean nails. Also, the use of artificial enhancements like acrylic nails are  discouraged .

Please note that the information provided is a general overview and policies may vary within countries and healthcare organizations. It is important for nurses to consult their specific workplace policies in their country of residence or origin to determine the rules regarding nail enhancements .

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Nurses Wear Nail Polish To Work?

In the United States , nurses are allowed to wear only chip free nail polish to work while in some countries like the U.K, nail polish is prohibited for nurses.

Are Nurses Allowed to Have Gel Nails?

If your gel nails are long, healthcare settings may not allow you to wear nail polish due to concerns regarding infection control and patient safety.

Can Nurses Have Shellac Nails

Some healthcare organizations permit nurses to wear regular nail polish or shellac nail polish as long as it remains chip-free.

Can Nurses Wear Dip Powder Nails

Wearing dip powder nails to work is not permitted for nurses due to the elevated risk of contracting and transmitting infections.

What are CDC Guidelines for Fingernails in Healthcare Facilities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests healthcare workers, including nurses to maintain short nail length, not longer than a quarter inch, and should not extend beyond the fingertips


In conclusion, the use of acrylic nails by nurses is generally discouraged or prohibited in healthcare settings. If you really need to pop your nails as a nurse, a breathable nail polish or nail wraps are a great alternative. Thank you for reading !