May 19, 2018 | Stephen Fine, Founder and President
Can UV Curing of Fingernail Gels Cause Melanoma?
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world. Fortunately, efforts to increase public education on the disease by medical science, foundations and affected citizens (who today are all helped greatly by the power of social media) continue to raise awareness levels. However, there is still a long way to go; including myths to dispel and key areas of skin cancer education to focus on.
A Show of Hands
The primary source of harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays is the sun; but it’s not the only one as tanning beds are equally dangerous. More recently, another threat to our skin’s health has emerged. Many women have transitioned over from using traditional nail polish to gel polish. Gel polish is more resilient, while also offering a more appealing look than its predecessor can.
The health issue isn’t with the polish itself, but rather the method employed to cure (dry, set in place) it. Both the conventional and LED lamps most manicurists use to cure gel polish project a powerful blast of UVA radiation onto the nails and fingers. These rays can, have and will continue to cause melanoma both under nails and on the skin of the fingers that surrounds them.
The Power of Popularity
Often, a disease we’re aware of, but has not yet impacted us in some personal way, will simply exist on the outskirts of our consciousness. And it remains there until it either does personally affect us, or a celebrity brings it to our national attention.
The current Miss Illinois is 20-year old Karolina Jasko, who will be representing that state in the upcoming Miss USA Pageant. Jasko is selflessly using her public platform to make others aware of her plight. At 18, her doctor informed her that she had developed melanoma under one of her fingernails.
She wants to make it known to as many people as she can reach that the curing process is probably to blame for her skin cancer, stating, “The doctor said I most likely got it from getting my nails done from the nail salon from getting acrylics from the light.”
Hers is an important message. Because while all melanoma education and awareness advocates have the same goal of educating the public, celebrity voices always resonate louder. Jasko’s efforts are commendable.
No matter how much new information on the dangers of any vice (tanning, smoking, etc.) are released publicly, there will always be people willing to take the associated risks. But there are ways to provide yourself with some protection if you opt to continue the unsafe practice of gel curing.
Use sunscreen or protective gloves (with open ends for nails) to at least protect the skin on the fingers from UV exposure during the curing process.