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How To Get Nail Glue Off Skin [The Most Effective Way]

Getting nail glue on your skin can feel quite uncomfortable. In fact, it can even cause chemical burns if you do not remove it quickly. But how do you do so properly? What is the right way to approach it to prevent further damage or irritation? This is what you should do.

So, how do you get nail glue off your skin? The best way to remove nail glue from the skin is by using acetone. This solvent is the fastest and most effective way, so long as you do so appropriately and infrequently. While nail glue will come off on its own naturally in a few days, leaving it on can result in irritation and other issues and as such, is not advised.

Naturally, you are probably wondering why I recommend a chemical-based product on your skin.

And there are certainly dangers of using acetone on the skin if you use it irresponsibly.

I’ll be getting to that shortly.

What you need to know now is that acetone in small amounts, used occasionally, should not cause any serious harm.

And then, there is an approach to make it even safer which we will walk you through in this article.

But first.

How Long Does Nail Glue Stay On Skin?

Nail glue may remain on your skin for several days if not removed by a solvent. Generally, a solvent is required to break down the nail glue in order for it to be able to come off.

It’s happened to a lot of people.

You spend some time putting on artificial nails, focused more on the style than on anything else.

Because of this, it takes you a while to notice the dried nail glue on your hand.

It can be a dismaying sight, particularly if you’d tried hard to avoid it happening.

But is waiting out a choice?

How long will it stay on your skin if you don’t attempt to remove it?

Here’s the good news: nail glue is far from permanent.

It’s not going to be there for the rest of your life!

Even if you never attempt to remove it, you’ll find that it eventually goes away all on its own.

So, for the anxious among us, relax!

This isn’t going to be something you’ll be explaining to your grandchildren.

Here’s the bad news: it may be several days before this begins to happen.

See, nail glue is basically super glue, though the two do have some important differences.

(Never use super glue as a substitute for nail glue!)

And super glue is well-known for sticking around on skin for a while in the case of an accidental spill.

It’s from this that we can determine how long you might be looking at.

In the case of superglue, it can take several days for it to begin to dissolve on its own.

If it’s just a little glue on your hands, you might not mind much.

If you have some stuck someplace noticeable, you might be a bit more uncomfortable.

But at least you can rest assured that it isn’t going to be there forever.

Why You Should Remove Nail Glue From Your Skin

Though safer on the skin than standard super glue, nail glue can cause problems when left on your skin. These can include contact dermatitis, paronychia (an infection of the skin around the nail, a common location of glue spills), or, rarely, a chemical burn. It may also cause redness and/or itching.

Is your nail glue going to kill you if you leave it on your skin?

No, probably not.

In fact, it’s doubtful that you’ll need any medical care at all.

This is something that is unlikely to cause any real physical damage.

So don’t worry about it too much!

Assuming, of course, that we are talking about nail glue and not standard super glue.

The two are more different than you would think.

Normally, the only side effects you’ll notice from nail glue will be a bit of redness and possibly some itching.

This is common and shows that your skin is just sensitive to the chemicals in the glue.

Take an antihistamine, if possible, and see if it helps.

Contact dermatitis, sometimes caused by allergic reactions to the glue on your skin, is perhaps one of the more common side effects people experience.

This is usually characterized by a reddening of the skin, the rash sometimes having blisters or hives.

You may also notice swelling or itching.

Normally, this is more of an inconvenience than an actual danger. It may be uncomfortable, but you should be alright to take care of this at home.

This care should include the removal of the nail glue.

If you’ve gotten nail glue just outside of the nail, you’re not alone.

Everyone who has ever applied false nails knows that, sometimes, glue just gets out of control.

In a few rare cases, this has been linked to paronychia. This is an infection of the skin around the nail.

You’ll likely notice heat, redness, and swelling. Eventually, a pustule or “pimple” will likely appear. This may require antibiotics.

Most rarely, you may be faced with a chemical burn. 

This is unlikely to happen, and you shouldn’t expect it to. However, it is possible.

If you notice burning after using nail glue, check if you can see any glue in the area.

See some?

You might be one of the (un)lucky few.

What You Will Need To Remove Nail Glue From Your Skin

You will need acetone. While other supplies may vary, one that is going to be required for all instructions to work is acetone. Other things will be needed, such as cotton balls or pads, a new toothbrush, water, soap, petroleum jelly (or baby oil), and an emery board.

There are many different things that you will need in order to remove nail glue from your skin.

You can find many products on the market too.

Because of this, you might think that it’s impossible to nail down one particular thing that you should always have ready, no matter how you intend to remove the polish.

Well, that’s not true. And the one ingredient is acetone.

Normally found in nail polish remover, acetone is a requirement for dissolving the nail glue as quickly as possible.

In fact, nail glue manufacturers usually recommend using acetone to remove their product, making it even better for you to use in this situation.

Nail glue is literally designed to be dissolved by acetone.

One pitfall to watch out for: not all nail polish removers will include acetone.

Many brands have switched things up, now offering acetone-free versions of their products.

While that might be fine for removing nail polish, for removing nail glue, you’re going to need to be sure you’re getting acetone.

This is the one I recommend from Amazon:

Sally Hansen Kwik Off Nail Color Remover with Vitamin E and Aloe, 5.1 Fluid Ounce
Sally Hansen Kwik Off Nail Color Remover with Vitamin E and Aloe, 5.1 Fluid Ounce
Vitamin E & Aloe.; Moisturizing nail color Remover.; For dry, brittle nails.

You will also need products such as cotton balls or pads, different scrubbers (including a toothbrush that’s unused), water, soap, an emery board, and petroleum jelly or baby oil.

All of these can you get on Amazon too!

Always be sure that you have the right supplies on hand before starting.

How To Get Nail Glue Off Your Skin (Step-By-Step)

There are two options on how to remove nail glue from skin. One involves room-temperature acetone; the other is using warmed acetone. Both require soaking the area and buffing away the nail glue. You can find the steps in detail below.

Warning: Before starting, be sure that you take note of any open cuts, including small paper cuts or hangnails. Acetone can sting them, so keep that in mind as you go.

Method One: Room-Temperature Acetone

For the first option, you should start by soaking the area with the glue in warm, soapy water for fifteen minutes.

Make it as warm as you can, without burning yourself.

Afterward, use a toothbrush (unused) or emery board to scrub at the nail glue.

You’re aiming to lift only the glue that is raised here.

Be careful not to pull since you could actually damage the skin that way!

Next, you want to immerse the area in nail polish remover.

Be sure that it’s the kind that contains acetone; you can’t use the type that doesn’t.

Depending on where the glue is, that immersion may or may not be possible.

If it isn’t, don’t fret!

Simply soak a cotton ball or, if you have one, a cotton pad in the nail polish remover.

From there, apply to the area with the glue.

Do these steps quickly because you want the heat from the water to still linger.

It’s the heat and acetone together that break down the glue.

Keep the acetone in the area for at least ten minutes.

Finally, you can use the toothbrush (or a cloth, if necessary) to brush off the area.

Most of the glue should be gone, now, if not all of it. Because nail glue can dry out your skin, apply some of the petroleum jelly or baby oil, to keep your skin in good condition.

Method Two: Warm Acetone

For the second option, you’ll have to do a bit more. However, it can work very well at removing glue!

Start by boiling water, then pouring it into a large basin.

Take another container, this one with your nail polish remover of choice in it (remember to be sure that it has acetone).

Put it into the water.

Be careful: you don’t water to get in it!

You just want the container to be surrounded by water on the sides.

This will help to warm the acetone, making it easier to break down the glue.

Once it’s warm, soak the area in it for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Then, with a toothbrush or an emery board, carefully and gently brush away what’s left of the glue.

As before, apply petroleum jelly or baby oil to prevent drying of the skin and remove any leftover bits of glue.

Will Nail Glue Come Off On Its Own?

Nail glue will come off on its own. It might take several days, or even longer, but it will come off on its own. Eventually.

Phew! It’s a relief, right?

When something like this happens, worrying about whether it will ever go away can be a bit much to manage. It’s anxiety-inducing for most and downright panic-worthy to some people.

After all, nail glue is very strong, and it’s well-known.

But your little glue mishap won’t affect the rest of your life!

Like most other things, nail glue will eventually go away on its own.

You can completely ignore it, not try to get rid of it, and you’ll likely still lose it within a relatively short amount of time.

This is usually several days, but it can last a week or more.

So, before deciding whether to wait it out or not, consider if you can wait at all. If you can’t, check out our options above!

How To Keep Nail Glue Off Your Skin

Be careful when applying. Set the glue aside on a steady surface to prevent spills. Always have acetone and cotton swabs ready to clear up glue accidents immediately.

Of course, it’s easier to avoid the mess in the first place than to clean it up once it’s done.

If you’d like to avoid a repeat, there are some things that you can do to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Careful Application 

First, be careful when applying your nail glue.

This seems like common sense, but many people don’t think twice about being sloppy with the glue.

Make sure that it’s staying on the nail, not gushing out of the sides of the nail, and staying off of your skin at all times.

That mindfulness will stop any getting on your skin most of the time.

Keep It Somewhere Safe

When not in your hand, you should have the glue sitting somewhere safe.

It shouldn’t be able to fall, roll, or accidentally be spilled or used in any way.

Keep out of reach of small children, and don’t put it where your elbow is going to be.

Always know where your nail glue is!

Remove Any Excess

Suppose any excess nail glue gets in the lid or on the side. Remove it quickly when it’s still wet.

Don’t let it dry or remain sticky on the outside of the container.

And in case you still manage to get some nail glue on you, don’t wait until it dries!

Have acetone-based nail polish remover, along with cotton swabs, ready and waiting to remove any stray glue.

Should You See A Doctor?

If you have glue in an area that you can’t use acetone on, see a doctor for advice. If you have any painful or unpleasant side effects from the glue, make an appointment. At the sign of an allergic reaction, go to the hospital or call for an ambulance.

That’s the best advice, and it’s basically all you need to know.

If you can’t use acetone there (eyes, mouth, other orifices, or open wounds), see a doctor.

Are you dealing with bad side effects, such as a rash, infection, or blisters? See a doctor.

Do you have an allergic reaction?

Don’t just wait to see a doctor: go to the hospital immediately, or, if you have trouble breathing, call an ambulance!

It’s as simple as that.


Nail glue is bought and used for many different things in the nail care world.

You can find it in drugstore nail kits or being sold individually, both online and offline.

Despite being very common, though, nail glue can bring on a host of problems when used incorrectly.

One careless mishap can cause problems.

But it’s easily done.

I’ve actually done this myself, though.

I’ve used nail glue on my face one Halloween as a teen.

We used nail polish remover with acetone and some paper towels to get rid of it.

My skin can be sensitive, and I was okay.

So the moral of the story – use acetone. Not too much, not too often.

And then, be a little more mindful not to get any nail glue on your skin going forward.

And if you are wondering how to get nail product out of other things, or even off yourself, check out my other guides below: