Take Charge

Getting a Gel Manicure? You May Want To Pack Your Sunscreen

April 18, 2018

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By Steve Blanchard 

Anyone who receives a manicure leaves the nail salon with a sense of relaxation and pride in their newly painted nails. But some may also walk away with some trepidation after exposing their hands to Ultraviolet (UV) lamps used to cure the acrylic gel. 

In a recent study published by The Australasian College of Dermatologists, researchers point out several risk factors linked to nail salon lamps, but also suggest that radiation potential varies by the specific lamp used. Depending on the lamp, DNA damage could be reached between eight and 208 visits to a salon. 

Is that enough reason to worry or to avoid the manicure all together? Moffitt board-certified dermatologist Dr. Lucia Seminario-Vidal says no. 

Dr. Lucia Seminario-Vidal
Dr. Lucia Seminario-Vidal

"I have not found any studies that have established a direct association between nail UV lamps and nail skin cancer development," Seminario-Vidal said. "However, any exposure to UV light has the potential to increase the risk of skin cancer." 

The Australasian College of Dermatologists study did state that the five to 10 minutes your hands are exposed to the UV lamps at the nail salon is the equivalent to the recommended limit of UV rays for an entire day. 

Because of the intense UV rays, Seminario-Vidal says that when she visits the nail salon, she applies SPF 50 sunblock or higher on her hands before her treatment. She says she also recommends that her patients do the same. Inexpensive UV-blocking fingerless gloves are also a good option. 

Fortunately, members of Moffitt’s Department of Cutaneous Oncology say they know of very few reports of skin cancer cases directly related to the lamps, but the experts agree that the precautionary measures are the best way to proceed. 

And if you decide to get a pedicure, consider taking the same precautions on your feet.