New study: Gel nail manicures may put you at risk for skin cancer

HOUSTON – If you love to get your nails done and love to do it often, here’s what you need to know if you are choosing gel nail polish.

Recent studies have shown exposure to the blue light during your gel manicure may put you at risk for skin cancer.

But there are ways to protect yourself and other good manicure options too.

Gel manicures are known for their smoother, shinier finish.

They are less likely to chip and last much longer than regular polish.

But recent health studies have shown that the process of putting your hand under the blue light lamp may damage the DNA of your cells.

“Those mutations are similar to what we see later on in skin cancer. When the gel is getting cured under the UV lamp if it’s hardened too much it can stick to the nail plate, the hard part of the nail, and become very hard to come off,” says Dr. Mary Alice Hickson, Doctor of Dermatology at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

And to remove the gel nail polish requires acetone soaking on and around the nail for about 10 to 15 minutes.

“It’s actually the acetone that can really damage and dry out the nail plate, it basically takes all the moisture out rather than the polish itself,” says Dr. Hickson.

The polish won’t harden without exposure to the blue light.

And Dr. Hickson says, it’s the blue light that contains UVA rays which can cause cells to mutate.

“Things that are tender, red, scaly, not going away in about a month to six weeks should be seen by a dermatologist,” adds Dr. Hickson.

Other signs, ridging on the top of your nail, spots, or dark lines.

But there are several things you can do to minimize your risk.

“Applying a mineral sunscreen to the backs of the hands and fingers about twenty minutes before the manicure. They also make UV protectant gloves that where your nails stick out where you’re putting it under the lamp your skin is protected from that UV light,” says Dr. Hickson.

Dr. Hickson adds, if you are proactive, you don’t have to get rid of gel manicures forever.

“I think gel manicures are not off the table. Just knowing the risks and being aware of what you can do to minimize those is important,” says Dr. Hickson.

Dr. Hickson says to take a break every three months for about a month or two, then you can start again.

That way you can check to see if there are any abnormalities on your nails.

You can also stick to regular nail polish or you can switch to the powder dip manicure instead.

Dr. Hickson adds, it takes 6 months for a nail to regrow, so you can start taking supplements now to strengthen your nails later when you’re giving them a break.

She recommends Nutrafol.

Click here for more on the health study.