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Gel manicures may increase skin cancer risk

A lot of women get their nails done and in recent years gel manicures have grown in popularity. But according to the American Academy of Dermatology, the process could cause an increase the risk of skin cancer.

There have been reports of women developing melanoma and other skin cancers after years of getting gel manicures.

“With gel manicures, they have chemicals that have to be hardened with ultraviolet light, type A ultraviolet light. That’s been linked to skin cancers in the past. That’s the same type of ultraviolet radiation that you see in tanning beds and a little bit in the sun. Those lamps are about four times stronger than what you’d see in the sun so they’re pretty strong,” says Dr. Colby Bingham, Dermatologist with Dermatology of Eastern Idaho and Medical Spa.

Putting your hands under the ultraviolet light is what may cause cancer.

“For sure, when you put under your hands the skin around your nails is getting irradiated with the ultraviolet light so the skin cancer is higher for that. And it’s hard to say how much of the ultraviolet light is going through the nails and through the lacquer and getting underneath there.”

But there are ways to protect your skin.

“Broad spectrum sunscreen, so SPF 30 or greater and put it all around the nail and all the way up the hand that’s going to be exposed. And they also make gloves that have the fingers cut out that only expose the nail. So you can put those on and also put on and put your hands underneath. That protects the skin but it doesn’t protect the nail so that’s probably the best thing you can do if you’re going to keep getting gel manicures.”

We reached out to multiple salons to talk to nail technicians about this and no one was available or willing to comment.

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