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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

By now, you have likely heard how dangerous indoor tanning beds are - they've been proven to increase your risk of skin cancer. But, if you've ever stepped foot into a nail salon, you may have wondered if those little lamps that use light to dry or "set" manicures pose any risk.

"Some lamps used at nail salons do emit ultraviolet (UV) rays, which have been shown to cause premature skin aging and skin cancer," said Geisinger dermatologist Elizabeth L. Noble, M.D.

These UV lamps, which emit predominately UVA rays, are used with gel manicures to "set" the polish, and are sometimes used to speed-dry regular manicures.

"UVA rays have been linked to both skin cancer and premature skin aging - they're able to penetrate deep into the skin and damage collagen, which is the basic building block of skin, as well as elastin, which keeps skin looking young," Dr. Noble explained.

However, these nail salon lamps are not the same as indoor tanning beds. Studies have found that even the most intense nail salon lamps only present a moderate UV risk - a much lower risk than UV tanning beds.

Additionally, most people only have a brief exposure with nail salon UV lamps - just enough to dry or set nail polish. To develop skin damage, you would need to visit the nail salon and use these lamps quite frequently.

"The risk nail salon lamps pose to your skin's health is really dependent on frequency," Dr. Noble said. "If you only get a few manicures a year, the risk is minimal. However, if you get weekly manicures and regularly use the UV lights, that risk goes up."

This doesn't mean you should give up pampering your hands at the salon though - there are some precautions you can take to protect yourself.

"If you're getting a regular manicure, forgo the UV lamps and let your nails air dry. If you're getting a gel manicure or need a speed-dry, apply an SPF 30 sunscreen to your hands before getting your manicure, which will decrease your risk of premature aging and skin cancer," Dr. Noble advised.
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