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Nail polish does not affect oximetry, says study

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Nail polish does not significantly effect oxygen saturation measurements taken by pulse oximetry, according to a new study.

Nail polish does not significantly effect oxygen saturation measurements taken by pulse oximetry, according to a new study.

Previous research has suggested that nail polish can reduce pulse oximeter readings by between 2% and 6%, since measurements are typically taken from the finger and rely on the absorption of light by blood vessels.

As a result, fingernail polish is routinely removed in clinical settings - a procedure that can be labour intensive and requires patient consent, the authors note.

The study evaluated ten nail polish colours: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, black, brown and white.

Two coats of each colour polish were randomly assigned to the nails of 27 healthy adult volunteers. Oxygen saturation readings were taken and compared with baseline measurements.

All polish colours affected oximetry readings by less than 1%, which is within the clinically acceptable range, the study concludes.

The authors say their sample size is larger than that used in previous research, and their oximeter was a newer model. However, further studies may be needed with patients with lower baseline measurements, they note.

Intensive and Critical Care Nursing;23:51-55

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