Gel Manicures May Damage Your DNA, Increases Risk Of Skin Cancer: What We Know

Ultraviolet radiation from nail dryers could cause damage to your DNA, a new study says.

2 min read
Hindi Female

If you’re someone who loves getting their nails done in salons or swears by gel manicures, a new study has some news for you. 

Ultraviolet radiation from nail dryers could cause damage to your DNA, a new study, titled DNA Damage and Somatic Mutations in Mammalian Cells After Irradiation With a Nail Polish Dryer, published in Nature Communications journal on 17 January, suggests.

Not just that, it also said that “long-term use may increase the risk for developing skin cancer.”

Here’s all you need to know about the study.


UV radiation harmful: The researchers from the University of California San Diego stated that UV light emitting devices could lead to cell death and cancer-causing mutations in our cells. The nail dryers used in salons use the UV light spectrum of 340-395 nanometres.

The impact: This is what exposure to nail dryers does to your cells, researchers found:

Exposure for 20 minutes: Between 20-30 percent cell death
Exposure to three consecutive 20-minute sessions: Between 65-70 percent cell death

But not just that, it could also cause mitochondrial and DNA damage in the cells that survive and “resulted in mutations with patterns that can be observed in skin cancer in humans,” the news release for the study said.

What experts say: Ludmil Alexandrov, Bioengineering, Cellular, & Molecular Medicine Professor, UC San Diego, and the author of the study, said,

“If you look at the way these devices are presented, they are marketed as safe, with nothing to be concerned about. But to the best of our knowledge, no one has actually studied these devices and how they affect human cells at the molecular and cellular levels until now.”

The authors of the study also wrote, “Our experimental results and the prior evidence strongly suggest that radiation emitted by UV-nail polish dryers may cause cancers of the hand and that UV-nail polish dryers, similar to tanning beds, may increase the risk of early-onset skin cancer.”

What next? Researchers say that a long-term epidemiological study is required before conclusively stating that these devices could lead to skin cancer. But they stand by the finding that these are damaging to human cells.

For now, they say the risk is not one worth taking.

However, if you still insist on getting those gel manicures, Dr Julia Curtis, Assistant Professor, Dermatology, University of Utah, told CNN, that these are some things you can do:

  • Apply sunblock around the nails

  • Wear UV gloves

  • Apply vitamin C and anti-oxidant-rich serums beforehand

  • Consult a dermatologist

(With inputs from CNN)

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Topics:  Cancer   DNA   What We Know 

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