Skin Cancer Risk from Manicures?

Skin Cancer

Women, who have regular manicures, may be at greater risk for getting skin cancer. This is from a new report that found two cases of women that had similar skin cancer cells developing on their hands and nails. It was speculated that nail lamps, which are regularly used at nail salons and emit harmful ultraviolet light, could be the reason.

Nail lamps are now being used more frequently in nail salons due to the popularity of gel and shellac manicures. Many women choose to get these types of manicures because their nails dry instantly, go longer without chipping, and look extra glossy. These manicures include a chemical gel that is painted on the nail in layers. Between each layer, the hands are put into the nail lamp, which uses an ultraviolet light to cure the paint. The new study shows that even seemingly small levels of ultraviolet radiation, as few as eight manicures, can lead to risky skin damage and even skin cancer.

The researchers at the Georgia Regents University in Augusta conducted a study, which sampled 17 different UV nail dryers. The goal was to find out how much radiation was being emitted to the clients, while their nails were going through the several stages of curing and drying. Dr. Lyndsay Shipp, the lead author of the study, says that the range of each machine was very vast. Some machines released significant ultraviolet radiation, and some released very little. Lamps with the high wattage bulbs emitted the greatest amount of ultraviolet radiation, but there is really no way for the client to know which light is being used on them.

Dr. Shipp admits that the study did not test the effects of long-term or multiple manicure visits, but says that the risk is very low. However, the research showed that only eight to 14 manicures, spread out over 24 to 42 months, would be all it took to damage the DNA in the skin. Many women get manicure one to three times a month, easily passing the eight visit mark after only two or three months. Dr. Shipp goes on to say that a person can get the same exposure from being in the car, and she will continue to get manicures every couple of months.

According to the American Cancer Society, exposure to ultraviolet radiation is a risk for most skin cancers. Ultraviolet rays break up DNA strands inside skin cells, which can lead to cancer. They also cause the skin to damage and wrinkle. Most people are aware than tanning beds and natural sunlight lamps can increase their skin cancer risk, but a many do not think about these little nail dryers.

If a client is worried about the risk of getting skin cancer from their regular manicure appointments, there are a few things they can do. One option would be to replace the lotion that the nail salon gives, and instead apply sunscreen to the hands before sticking them in the nail dryer. Another, more extreme option, would be to wear gloves that have ultraviolet protection in them, and cut off just the fingertips so the nails are the only part being exposed to the light. Other than that, to completely avoid any risk of skin cancer, a client can always forgo the nail dryers completely and choose to air dry.

Opinion By Sara Petersen

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