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Your Healthy Family: UV lamps at nail salons & skin cancer

Posted at 7:41 AM, Jul 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-17 07:41:00-04

We know ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning bed can cause skin cancer, but what about UV light from lamps used to dry your nails at the salon?

July is UV Safety Awareness Month: a time to remind people about the dangers of harmful UV rays.

A recent study in Nature Communications found UV nail dryers can lead to DNA damage and cell mutations.

“The research tells us that the ultraviolet light from these boxes causes DNA damage in the cells, just like ultraviolet light from the sun. What we don't yet know is how that translates into individual people and how much of an increased risk of skin cancer you get from using those ultraviolet light boxes," Dr. Melissa Piliang, a Dermatologist with Cleveland Clinic, said.

But there are precautions you can take when using UV nail dryers during a gel manicure. She recommends applying sunscreen to your hands about 20 minutes before a nail appointment. Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30. She said you can also wear UV protection gloves, which are made from a UV-resistant material and have holes at the fingertips for your nails. Dr. Piliang said this will not only prevent skin cancer, but also premature skin aging.

She said the best thing to do is limit your exposure to UV nail dryers.

“If you're somebody who goes to get a gel manicure for a special occasion, before your wedding, before a formal event, you're probably OK. But if you're somebody who goes every two weeks, religiously, to get these gel manicures, you're probably increasing your risk of skin cancer on your hands," Dr. Piliang said.

She recommends getting regular skin checks at your dermatologist to stay ahead of skin cancer.