INDIANAPOLIS – Before you head to your next next nail appointment, there’s a new study you need to be aware of.
When’s the last time you got a gel manicure or pedicure? A study released in January found radiation from ultraviolet (UV) gel nail dryers could damage your DNA and cause cancer mutations in cells.
“I know a lot of people, including myself, appreciate the durability and longevity that you get with a gel manicure – that shininess and being able to keep the polish on for a few weeks is certainly a nice thing, especially for people who are washing their hands all of the time or wearing gloves all day long,” shared Janelle Nassim.
Nassim is a dermatologist with IU Health. She’s had patients come into her office asking about these recent findings. She understands the reasoning behind gel manicures, but there are steps we can take to protect our skin – as researchers continue to learn more about the long-term impacts of the commonly used dryers.
Researchers say the UV gel nail dryers are marketed as safe, but there haven’t been studies on how they affect human cells until now.
The study was conducted on human and mice cells in petri dishes. It found the use of the devices for just one 20-minute session led to between 20 to 30 percent cell death. It also found three consecutive 20-minute exposures caused 65 to 70 percent of the cells to die.
“The study did show mutations and cell damage in the cells that were exposed and what’s concerning is that a lot of the mutations that we’re seeing are ones that we can see in skin cancer in real people,” added Nassim.
She said there’s a difference between someone who gets gel nails for a special occasion versus chronic exposure. There are things you can do to protect your nails and the skin around them.
You can order fingerless gloves that physically block UV light.
Or try this: “Another option is applying sunscreen to your hands,” Nassim explained, “I would recommend a physical type of sunscreen or mineral containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which is going to be better protection as well as faster, on-set protection.”
Make sure you’re going to a dermatologist to get checked for skin cancer. They’ll be sure to check your hands and nail area, as part of your scan.