How can alcohol become trapped in nails?

Like hair, nails are made from keratin, which is a fibrous protein. As the nail grows, substances can pass from the blood vessels below the nail into the keratin fibres where they become trapped. Biomarkers from alcohol can thus be detected in the nails.

Our nail alcohol testing analyses samples for a specific long-term marker of ethanol (the intoxicating agent in alcohol) called ethyl glucuronide (EtG). These EtG biomarkers become trapped within the keratin fibres along the length of the nail providing a detection period of up to 12 months.

Why choose nail testing?

Nail testing is ideal for those cases where hair testing is not possible (such as the donor has no or little hair, for religious reasons, and for those concerned with their appearance).

Analysing nail clippings for alcohol use can give an overview of up to 12 months.

Fastest, most cost-effective legal nail alcohol testing in the UK

Sample collection

If the nail is long (5 mm or above) then only one nail would be required. If the nails are short then it may be best to take clippings from a couple of nails.

Either fingernails or toenails can be used for the test, but not a mixture. Approximately 10 mg of nail is required in total.

Legal alcohol testing

The sample of nail clippings would need to be collected under chain of custody conditions to support legally defensible results. This would require either an appointment with one of our trained sample collectors at a place convenient to the donor or at one of our 19 UK and Ireland Walk in Centres.

We have substantially invested in the very latest testing analytical equipment, and employ some of the best scientists in the world, to ensure that our legal alcohol tests are as accurate as possible. However, because these tests only detect EtG, AlphaBiolabs would always recommend that a blood test be taken to provide a greater insight into an individual’s level of alcohol consumption.

AlphaBiolabs can provide the most cost-effective solutions for your legal alcohol testing needs.

To find out more about our range of services, please call AlphaBiolabs on 0333 600 1300 or email us at

Call us on 0333 600 1300 to discuss legal alcohol testing options

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