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Do Gel Manicures Increase The Risk Of Skin Cancer?

A UV nail drying machine. (credit: CBS 2)

A UV nail drying machine. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sometimes it seems like there’s a nail salon on every corner. Manicures and pedicures are a quick way to pamper yourself and put your best hand or foot forward.

However, a new study suggests women who get gel manicures are increasing their risk of skin cancer.

Gel manicures are popular because the method prevents nails from chipping. What makes them so long-lasting is the polish that contains polymers that harden when exposed to ultraviolet light, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.

It is the same ultraviolet light that is used in the tanning beds that have been linked to skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.

Which raises the question of whether the nail lights might also pose a skin cancer risk.

That means -the UV light can cause premature wrinkling, dark spots and light spots, said Dr. Chris Adigun of NYU’s Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, who wrote the report

“You can also develop dry, brittle nails from the gel manicures, especially people that are doing them on a regular basis,” Dr. Adigun told 1010 WINS.

CBS 2’s Gomez spoke with Adigun about the study.

“In a study that was analyzing the strength of these lamps and comparing them with tanning beds, the conclusion was the actual risk of inducing skin cancer by using these lamps is actually quite low. It’s not zero, but it’s quite low,” Adigun said.

So what can you do to help prevent the damage?

“Wear sun protective gloves and just snip the fingertips off of the gloves, or use a sun-protective cloth to lay on top of their hands,” suggested Dr. Chris Adigun. “Or at the very least, apply sunscreen.”

The bigger problem with gel manicures, according to Dr. Adigun, is the chemicals that are in the polish and what it takes to remove the long lasting polish.

“Which can induce certain types of contact dermatitis or allergy, allergic contact dermatitis in people, as well as the dryness that can happen from the removal process and exposure to the acetone. That can be very problematic,” she said.