Earlier this month, a study published in the Nature Communications journal suggested that ultraviolet radiation from nail dryers could cause damage to your DNA and even pose the risk of skin cancer.
What does this mean for someone who might be regularly getting gel manicures?
FIT spoke to Dr Sonal Bansal, Consultant, Dermatology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, Dr DM Mahajan, Senior Consultant, Dermatology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, and Dr Chandni Jain Gupta, Dermatology, Venereology, Cosmetology, ELANTIS Healthcare, New Delhi, to answer all your FAQs.
What exactly do UV rays do to your skin?
Ultraviolet or UV rays are one of the major causes of skin cancer, second only to genetics. Dr Chandni Jain Gupta explains that exposure to UV rays leads to the breaking down of the telomeres, which are the end of the chromosome of our DNA.
This breaking down of the DNA gives way to mitosis and mutation, which can ultimately lead to skin cancer.
The person could develop melanoma or carcinoma, both forms of cancer, on chronic exposure to these rays.
Who is at risk?
According to Dr Sonal Bansal, anyone who gets their nails done regularly, say once or twice a month, is at risk of developing cancer of the skin or of the hand.
But this risk increases multifold for nail technicians who are chronically exposed to enough radiation over a period of time.
But, she also adds that a lot of salons have actually switched to LED lamps in recent times due to this very reason.
Are there any precautionary measures you can take?
While ideally exposure to UV lamps should be avoided or at least minimised, doctors suggest a few other precautionary measures as well:
Avoid nail salons that are using UV lamps and instead opt for ones with LED lamps
Apply a good amount of sunscreen on both the hands at least 20 minutes prior to the appointment so that UV rays don’t enter the skin
Wear fingerless gloves
Avoid the use of acetone or limit it while removing the older nail gel
What are the symptoms of skin cancer that you should look out for?
These are the symptoms that might occur if you have skin cancer:
If a mole or freckle suddenly changes colour, increases in size
If the texture of the mole becomes rough or if there are irregular margins
If it itches or burns frequently
Are gel manicures worth the risk?
Well, not really. While they obviously pose the risk of cancer, there are other factors to take into account too when it comes to gel manicures.
Dr Bansal explains that gel manicures are not the best for your nail health since they increase the risk of skin infections.
When someone gets gel manicures done, their cuticles are cut or pushed which should not be done since it protects the nail from bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Apart from this, when the nails are smoothened, they might become too thin and brittle. The curving of the edges might lead to in-growths.
And if the instruments are not sterilised or the technician is untrained, a plethora of infections is just waiting round the corner.
She advises that if you do like getting gel manicures done, at least give your nails a few months' break between two sessions to let them breathe.
Dr DM Mahajan adds that exposure to radiation also increases the threats of:
Loss of moisture