UV Lights in Nail salons, Skin Cancer Risk?

Gel manicures offer longer wear than regular manicures, but at what cost? Recent media headlines highlight safety concerns regarding skin cancer risk and ultraviolet (UV) lamps used to dry gel nail polish. The lamps emit UVA rays that penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB and are known to cause photodamage and skin cancer.

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology discovered the UV exposure from lamps used in gel manicures is low. However, in less than 10 minutes, a person’s hands receive equivalent to the day-long recommended limit for outdoor workers. With frequent trips to nail salons over the years, repetitive exposure can add up. Furthermore, increased depth of penetration of UVA is responsible for the majority of photoaging in the skin and long-term exposure to UV nail lamps may have the potential to increase skin cancer risk and photoaging.

At Advanced Dermatology, we recommend either wearing zinc oxide sunscreen on your hands or dark, opaque protective gloves with the fingertips cut off when getting manicures that use UV lamps. Be aware, even water-resistant sunscreens are likely to wash off if the manicurist uses soap and water, scrubs your hands, and applies lotion. If you want to protect your hands during your manicure, you may ask to skip the hand pampering. Even better, avoid the gel manicure all together and spend a few extra minutes of air drying with a magazine.