Warning issued for gel manicures and UV light


by Cathy Marshall / KGW


Posted on April 3, 2012 at 6:51 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. - A warning came out last week that left many women wondering what to do about their next trip to the nail salon.

Gel manicures are the focus of the fear because the process exposes women to ultraviolet light as the nails are dried.

Beth Sugarman heard the warning but has no fear about her afternoon of pampering at Bizarre Nails in Bethany Village.

“I think people can get scared about a multitude of things. I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s not a harmful thing,” she said.

An article in the Archives of Dermatology is behind the recent warning. A dermatologist in Texas wrote about two cases of skin cancer.

“The two cases turned out to be women who made frequent trips to the nail salon and frequent trips to the nail dryer during the process,” said Dr. Lou Perretta of Portland’s Doctor’s Express.

The gel manicure process involves about eight minutes of UV exposure on each hand. The light is used to dry the polish so it adheres to the nail and lasts longer than a traditional manicure.

“I can garden and do dishes and won’t have to replace my polish every couple of days,” explained Sugarman.

Perretta described the risk of a gel manicure as low.

“It all depends on how frequently you’re getting your nails done because it’s a cumulative dose. That’s what women need to realize because over time the more UV light they get, the more it increases the risk for skin cancer,” Perretta said.

Some reports have compared the nail dryers to mini tanning beds but Dr. Perretta says the tanning beds have a higher rate of exposure because they cover the whole body.

Beth Sugarman plans to continue getting gel manicures but says she’ll use common sense, “I know it will last three weeks.”

Perretta suggests using sun block on the hands to reduce your risk of exposure or opt for a regular manicure. It won’t last as long but you’ll avoid exposure to the UV light of a nail dryer.