WashingtonSQDerm's Blog

Nail Salon Lamps May Increase Skin Cancer Risk

This is an important read for all women that use UV lamps to dry their nail polish or gel manicures at the nail salon.

Nail dryers primarily use UVA rays, the same UV rays used in indoor tanning beds. We know that tanning beds cause skin cancer; although it has been controversial as to whether UV nail lamps do, because the intensity of UVA rays are much lower in nail dryers than that of a tanning bed.

In JAMA Dermatology, one of the leading dermatology journals an article was just published looking at the intensity of UVA rays emitted by nail dryers. Researchers in Georgia studied the intensity of UVA rays emitted by 17 UV lamps at commercial salons. What they found was that there is a very wide range in the amount of UVA rays emitted by the devices, some were significantly stronger than others. Also, the intensity of the UVA exposure varied depending on the hand position in the nail dryers.

The researchers determined that the amount of UVA exposure from a single drying session is likely not enough to cause a problem; however, from repeated use there is theoretically a higher risk of skin cancer of the hands.

They estimated that for most of the nail dryers, 8 to 14 sessions over the course of two to four years would be enough UVA exposure to cause damage to your skin’s DNA.

So what does this mean for you and your friends… Next time you get a get manicure, consider wearing sunscreen on your hands or even UV protective gloves with the fingertips cut off. If you want to be extra cautious use a fan or air dry your nails.

Even if the nail dryers do not cause cancer, we know that UVA rays causes aging skin, so if you want to avoid wrinkly, freckled hands it makes sense to avoid nail dryers or protect your hands if you do decide to use them.


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