Nail salon UV lamps: Skin cancer risk?

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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Nail salon lamps are used to set gel manicures and dry polish in nail salons across the country, but they emit ultraviolet rays, which can cause skin cancer and age skin prematurely.  But a new study finds the risk is very small.

"Very, very small risk. If you're someone who goes to get their nails done once a week and put your hand in there for 10 minutes, you might want to be worried. If you're someone who goes a couple of times a year you're probably fine," said Cleveland Clinic Dermatologist Dr. Melissa Piliang, who did not take part in the study,

Researchers at Georgia Regents University in Augusta tested 17 light units from 16 salons. The lamps used a variety of bulbs, with different wattage outputs and emitted various amounts of radiation. Results show that although higher-wattage ultra violet lamps did emit more UV radiation, the brief exposure would require multiple visits for potential skin damage and the risk for skin cancer is small.

Researchers recommend the use of sunscreens or protective gloves to decrease the risk of skin cancer and premature aging even further. Piliang agrees.

"If you put sunscreen on your way into the salon it's all going to come off when they do the manicure and wash your hands, but if you maybe take some with you and maybe ask your manicurist to put the sunscreen on for you at the end of the manicure then you would be protected under the light," Piliang said.

Read more about this study in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

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