If your thought of pampering involves a visit to the nail salon, doctors warn you – protect your hands, or you risk permanently damaging your skin cells.
Dr Najia Shaikh, a GP, dermatologist and founder of One Skin Clinic, told Sky News it was “better safe than sorry” when it came to manicures.
Her warning comes after a study found that UV nail polish dryers used in salons can damage DNA and cause cancer-causing mutations in human cells.
The study looked at cells from humans and mice and found that the cells died when exposed to levels of ultraviolet radiation commonly found in nail salon dryers.
“Better protect your hands”
Dr Shaikh said there was still little evidence on the exact harm nail lamps caused.
But she added that “any kind of UV radiation can actually affect cells, mutate them, change DNA”.
“Better protect your hands,” she said.
She recommends that people wear gloves with severed fingertips, or if they do choose to expose their hands to lights, use a broad-spectrum cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 to protect against UVA and UVB rays.
These precautions are especially important for people who get regular manicures, because the effects of UV rays are cumulative, getting worse with each exposure, she says.
Still, according to Dr. Shaikh, the study doesn’t mean everyone should cancel their nail appointments right away.
She likened the risk level to the dangers of a sunny day.
“We can’t stop people from going out in the sun just because solar radiation can cause damage,” she said.
It is important to be aware of the potential risks and guard against them, she added.
UV light causes cell death
Scientists have long sounded the alarm Cancer Risks Linked to Salon Tanning Beds Used for tanning, but new research suggests the equipment used to dry gel manicures could also be harmful.
The UV spectrum used in tanning beds has been studied and conclusively proven to be carcinogenic – but the spectrum used in nail dryers has not been fully studied.
Researchers at UC San Diego have now discovered that nail dryers cause cell death and lead to mutations that can lead to cancer.
The researchers noted that long-term epidemiological studies are needed before there can be a “conclusive statement” that machine use increases the risk of skin cancer.
But Ludmil Alexandrov, co-author of the study published in Nature Communications and a professor at the University of California, San Diego, said that although little research has been done on dryers, these devices are currently being tested. “Marketed as a Safety Product”.
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what the researchers found
The researchers found that one 20-minute exposure to a UV dryer resulted in the death of 20-30% of the cells, while three consecutive 20-minute exposures resulted in the death of 65-70% of the exposed cells.
The study looked at human and mouse cells. The cells were exposed to two different conditions: acute exposure, two 20-minute sessions separated by an hour, and chronic exposure, three consecutive days of 20-minute sessions.
Mr Aleksandrov said they saw damage to the DNA, and some of the damage could not be repaired over time. This DNA damage causes mutations after each exposure with a UV nail polish dryer.
Exposure could also lead to “mitochondrial dysfunction,” which could lead to additional mutations, he said.
“We studied patients with skin cancer, and we saw the exact same mutational patterns in these patients that we saw in the irradiated cells.”
The idea for the study came from an article Mr Aleksandrov had read about a young beauty contestant who had been diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer on her fingers.
“I thought it was weird, so we started looking into it and noticed a lot of reports in medical journals that people who regularly get gel manicures – like beauty pageants and beauticians – are reporting very rare cancers of the fingers , suggesting that this could be the cause of this type of cancer,” he said.