Can Ultrasound Techs Have Acrylic Nails?

Maybe you’re going into the sonography field, or maybe you’re a curious mama who has queries about your technician- either way, you’re reading through this article because you’re questioning if ultrasound techs can have acrylic nails. It’s a fair question, and we praise you for doing your research on it!

It’s a commonplace understanding that if you work in the medical field, you shouldn’t ever wear acrylic nails- and the same standard applies to those in sonography. There are understandable concerns with wearing fake nails that place both technician and patient at risk which expels their use altogether.

The topic has been heavily researched throughout the years, especially during the surge of fake-nail popularity in recent times. Discover the reasoning behind fake nails being ixnay in the medical field, as well as some popular alternatives to acrylics, here. 

Acrylic Nails In The Medical Field

There’s a general rule of thumb that acrylic nails, and fake nails in general, should never be worn by people in the medical field. From receptionists to surgeons, there’s a standard of cleanliness kept in hospitals and doctors’ offices that would fluctuate if workers donned long claws. This doesn’t mean that acrylics are unclean, they’re just harder to clean.

Fake nails shroud the natural nail in a layer held down by adhesive. They’re not meant to pop off, nor are they meant to come off easily. This makes them the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and germs to wreak havoc. The layman isn’t going to be touching anything deeply threatening in day-to-day life, but circumstances are different in medicine.

People who come in contact with the ill every single day need to be diligent about their cleanliness, more so than the rest of us. Staying sterilized not only keeps the patient risk-free, but it keeps the worker risk-free as well. If you allow yourself the luxury of acrylics, but can’t be 100% sure they’re germ-free, lives could potentially be at stake. 

The chances of contracting something deadly from fake nails are low, but the potential outcomes are catastrophic. Though acrylics are barred mainly for medical professionals working with extremely ill patients, maintaining that same criterion with other fields, including sonography, aids in the smooth running of medical facilities everywhere.

Acrylic Nails In Sonography

You may have attempted to look into controlled studies regarding the use of acrylic nails by sonographers and found that there weren’t any, but despite the lack of academic studies, it should be known that the answer to the question “can ultrasound techs have acrylic nails?”, is still a hard no– for the same reasons previously mentioned.

Though sonographers don’t come in contact with open wounds, or severely ill people during examinations, they are in close proximity with some of the most at-risk patients: pregnant women. Expecting mothers, and their unborn babies, have lower immune system strength, so techs need to be especially mindful about cleanliness.

Ultrasound techs handle equipment that directly touches the expecting mother. The closer and longer you work with your patients (ultrasound appointments generally take 30 mins. to an hour), the more you have to worry about germs transferring. Technicians should always wash their hands and wear gloves, but when wearing acrylics, those practices are obsolete.

This is not to say that ultrasound techs can’t rock some color on their nails! It depends on the individual guidelines instilled by the hospital or medical center where the sonographer works, but it’s generally known that technicians can wear nail varnish on top of their natural nails- just no press-ons, gels, and of course, acrylics!

Dangers With Wearing Acrylic Nails

There are countless studies on the bacterial growth of acrylics as worn by medical professionals, and instances of infections spreading via the wearing of acrylics. Medical workers lay their lives on the line every single day with their work, and wearing cute nails just wouldn’t be worth the risk of illness or death to them, or those they come in contact with.

Researchers have found that, in a controlled study where they tested the bacterial growth on 3 pairs of hands (natural, with polish, and with acrylics), nails with acrylic varnishes had the most significant bacterial harbor after 14 days of wear. The bacterial burden of the acrylic nails was more than 3x the amount found on the nails with polish.

Even scarier is the fact that, after being washed with an alcohol-based gel cleanser, scientists only saw a bacterial reduction in the natural nails and the polished nails. That means that acrylic nails contract, and hold onto any germs they come in contact with- they can’t be washed away with soap and water.

With the risk of spreading accumulated bacteria to yourself, or to expecting mothers, it’s clear to see why sonographers should opt out of wearing acrylics while they’re working. It’s far too hazardous of a gamble to play with, but with your health (and the health of your patients) in mind and heart, saying no to acrylics is an easy decision to make. 

Alternatives To Acrylics For Ultrasound Techs

For the fashion-forward sonographer, giving up acrylics may be hard, but thankfully, the nailcare world is chock-full of fake nail alternatives that are just as cute as acrylics. These nail options aren’t only more affordable, but they’re also fair game in the medical field (depending on your residence).

Contrary to popular belief, medical professionals can wear nail polish! It’s a rule that may vary based on the hospital, but it’s typically not frowned upon for your doctor to wear some colorful nails. This also applies to the length of your fingernails. So, if you’ve been looking for a sign to grow your nails out, this may be the perfect opportunity to!

While growing your nails out and painting them is the most acrylic-like option you have, we implore you to look into how gorgeous having bare nails can be! Having polish and acrylics on 24/7 can have you finding fault in the look of your natural nails, but with some proper TLC, you may grow to love the feel of a polish-free hand.


Acrylic nails have grown to be a total cultural norm…though completely safe for the average person, medical professionals including ultrasound techs will find they’re not worth the potential risks of bacterial transfer. Thankfully, there are alternatives you can wear so your nails can look cute, and you can stay safe!