In the past few decades, gel manicures have become the preferred nail manicure for millions of women around the world. Instead of traditional nail polish, women have been choosing gel as it’s far more durable and lasts more than regular nail polish. Gels also keep up their appearance until their removal.
However, even though it sounds harmless, the UV light used to harden the gel onto the nails can ruin your nails and endanger your health. If you’re getting your nails done often, the frequent exposure to this radiation can actually do quite a lot of damage. Laurel Ann is an American girl whose friend was recently diagnosed with skin cancer (melanoma) and the doctors identified the culprit as the nail gels.
Ann says that both she and her friend never thought of the gels and the whole process as something harmful until her friend was diagnosed with melanoma. The doctors were able to remove one of her nails and the cancer didn’t spread, but it was all due to her quick reaction. Others may not be so lucky.
Evidence From Research – Are The Lamps Really Harmful?
Research has been done in recent times to answer the question if the nail UV lamps are powerful enough to cause cancer. Many studies have shown that the lamps are safe for use, but most of these studies were funded by beauty industry giants, so they might not be so accurate due to the conflict of interest.
On the other hand, a recent report from the Skin Cancer Foundation might be closer to the truth. The report said that both UV and LED lamps emit UV radiation and have been linked to skin aging and cancer. The risk is not as high as the risk UV tanning beds pose, but it is still there. To keep things safe, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying a bit of sunscreen on your hands and nails 20 minutes before the exposure to the light. When getting a regular manicure, let your nails dry off naturally instead of using a lamp.
Although the FDA has released a comment on the safety of nail lamps, the beauty industry doesn’t offer guidelines for nail lamps and the FDA doesn’t cover them. The FDA notes that there is evidence of nail lamps being risky and that certain medications and supplements such as contraceptives, St. John’s Wort pills, estrogen hormone replacement medications, antibiotics and some lotions and skin products can trigger problems.
As a result of the studies which have shown that nail lamps can be quite dangerous, we recommend playing it safe by either skipping them or just applying sunscreen before the exposure.
What Is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the most common type of skin cancer in the USA. It starts developing when melanocytes (skin cells) start growing out of control. These cells contain the skin pigment known as melanin which is destroyed when exposed to UV radiation which may come from nail lamps, tanning beds or the sun. Tanning beds are the most dangerous of the three – according to one study, people using tanning beds before the age of 35 have a 75% higher risk of melanoma. The overexposure to the radiation can damage the melanocytes beyond repair and they might start spreading to other parts of the body, resulting in skin cancer metastasis and possibly even death.
Symptoms And Treatment For Melanoma
Experts recommend following the ABCDE method to determine if you have melanoma. It stands for:
- Asymmetry of a mole or similar growth
- Border – if the edges of the growth are notched or irregular
- Color – if the color is off, something’s not right
- Diameter – if the mole starts growing out of control and is larger than a pencil eraser
- Evolving or elevated – if the spot is constantly changing texture or shape
Melanoma should be diagnosed by a medical professional, who will then recommend the appropriate therapy. The treatment depends on the stage the cancer has been caught in. Most cases require a surgery, but chemo and radiation might be needed to destroy leftover cancer cells. If you’re suspecting that you have melanoma, speak to your doctor about it.
Tips For Safe Manicure
If you think that you should switch back to regular nail polish instead of hair gels now, you’re still wrong. Nail polish has its own risks as most brands contain harmful chemicals that can seriously put your health in danger. As a safer alternative, you should go for non-toxic organic brands of nail polish or simply go nail polish-free.
Ditching the nail lamps and tanning beds is an absolute must if you want to stay healthy. This will reduce your risk of melanoma and help you lead a healthier life.