Are You “Dying” to Get Your Nails Done?

The Nails
The Nails

Are you risking cancer every time you get your nails done? The ultraviolet drying lamps used by nail salons are the heated subject of a long-running cancer debate that may finally have been put to rest.

Dangers of UV Light

At the heart of the controversy is the UVA light emitted by nail drying lamps. Ultraviolet light from the sun is composed of two kinds of light. UVB light generally affects the surface of the skin, causing sunburn; but it also suppresses the immune system which can leave sun worshippers more vulnerable to skin cancer. Considered more dangerous and a potent carcinogen is UVA light which penetrates more deeply into the skin, aging skin cells and damaging their DNA. The result is premature aging, the development of wrinkles and increased risk of skin cancer.

The proven link between prolonged exposure to UVA rays and increased risk of skin cancer and melanoma is behind the Food and Drug Administration’s recent campaign to warn consumers, particularly teens and young adults, about the potential dangers of using tanning beds and sunlamps.

Are Nail Salons a Cancer Risk?

While nail salon drying lamps do emit the UVA light associated with skin cancer, a definitive new study found little skin cancer risk from the brief exposure experienced during the average nail salon visit. However, researchers do recommend reducing risk by treating hands with sunscreen before going under the drying lamp. To further protect consumers, researchers also recommend federal standardization of salon drying lamp UVA output.

Our advice: Next time you visit the nail salon take along a tube of sunscreen to apply before sticking you hands under the drying light!