A new study suggests that long wavelengths of UVA light from nail dryers, used to dry and cure acrylic and gel-manicured nails, can damage DNA cells and might increase risk of skin cancer.
What did the study find about UV nail salon dryers?
The study was performed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Pittsburgh. They tested human cells and mice cell lines under UV light from nail salon dryers.
The researchers found that after a single 20-minute exposure to the UV lamps, 20% to 30% of cells died. And after three 20-minute rounds of exposure, 65% to 70% of cells died.
Ludmil Alexandrov, an associate professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego and senior author of the study, said that the study cannot conclude that these nail dryers increase risk of cancer, per The Washington Post.
“But we very clearly see that it does negatively affect cells, and it damages DNA,” said Alexandrov, per the Post.
What do experts say about using UV nail salon dryers?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers UV nail dryers “low risk.” The FDA reports that it has not received any reports of skin cancer or other damage cause by UV nail lamps.
UV nail dryers are typically used for short increments of time — roughly 8 minutes total per manicure — and such short and infrequent exposure isn’t enough to cause real damage, according to the FDA.
“If you sat every day with your hands under one of these machines, that’d be a problem,” said Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, per The Washington Post.
The Post spoke to dermatologists who were not involved in the study, who said it is important to note that the study was done on human cells, not human beings, who have multiple layers of protective skin.
“I would not discourage (a) person from getting their nails done,” said Edward S. Kim, physician-in-chief at City of Hope Orange County, per CBS News. “They should be practicing good preventative care — no matter if they’re in a nail salon or if they’re out in the sun.”
Why can UV light be dangerous?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is emitted from the sun but it can also be emitted from artificial sources, like tanning beds, reports the CDC. Overexposure to UV rays can lead to premature signs of aging and an increased risk of skin cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, most skin cancers are a result of exposure to UV rays from the sun, but skin cancer is also linked to artificial sources. People who use tanning beds have an increased risk of skin cancer.