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UV Safety: Can UV light nail dryers cause skin cancer? The Doctors discuss the question

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A UV light nail dryer in use during a manicure
(CC-BY-ND Fing'rs)

July is UV Safety Month. The message to wear sun protection and stay out of tanning beds is being broadcast for all to hear.

A recently aired episode of the television show The Doctors made Americans aware of another potential ultraviolet light-related skin cancer risk -- the UV light dryer at the nail salon.

The Doctors on the safety of UV light nail dryers
During an “Ask Our Doctors” segment of the show (original air date May 5, 2010), The Doctors resident dermatologist Dr. Andrew Ordon addressed a viewer’s concern about the safety of UV gel manicures and the UV nail dryer used for curing the finish.

Dr. Ordon explained the DNA of skin cells mutate when exposed to ultraviolet light and this increases the risk of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.

He then tested the amount of UV light produced by a standard UV nail dryer using a Sper Scientific UV-A/B Light Meter. As co-host Dr. Jim Sears explained to viewers that a meter reading of over 100 was bad, Dr. Ordon turned the monitor so all could see a reading that climbed to 8,617 before giving a final result of high UV exposure.

Dr. Ordon referenced research from the University of Texas that found squamous cell carcinoma on the hands of two women who had no predisposing factors for skin cancer, except for repeated the use of UV light nail dryers during manicures. The research, which was published in the medical journal Archives of Dermatology, states the amount of UV radiation exposure per meter produced by UV nail dryer lights (once one adjusts for body surface and bulb wattage) is comparable to that of tanning beds.

When asked for his final recommendation by co-host Dr. Travis Stork, Dr. Ordon suggested women opt for regular fan dryers during their manicures and pedicures.  In his opinion, using the UV nail dryer is not worth the skin cancer risk.


Watch for free skin cancer screenings throughout the year. For example, several Indianapolis health organizations offered free skin cancer screenings in May as part of Skin Cancer Detection & Prevention Month.

Indianapolis area residents who need the assistance of a dermatologist can search for one through the American Academy of Dermatology website or Indy.MD.

The Doctors airs weekdays at 4:00 p.m. on WISH-TV Channel 8 Indianapolis.

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Comments

  • Nancy Z-Grand Rapids Health Examiner 4 years ago

    Thank goodness I don't use one of these. Good info.

  • Susan - Pasco County Food Examiner 4 years ago

    I keep my long nails natural. I am so lucky.

  • April Adams - Salt Lake Wellness Examiner and Cat 4 years ago

    Wow I have used these a handful of times but no more! Thanks for the info!

  • Debra (D.K.) Peterson, Disney Travel Examiner 4 years ago

    I'd never even heard of UV light nail dryers – or processed what they were, at least. Useful heads-up.

  • Faith Draper - Lansing City Guide Examiner 4 years ago

    Very helpful information - think I'll save my money and stick with the old fashioned 'air dry' method.

  • Winona Cooking Examiner 4 years ago

    Whoa, I can't believe the amount on the scale...used these before at the salon...been 17 years...hadn't been back. Thanks for the report.

  • Winona Home & Living 4 years ago

    This will make a lot of people stop and think when they visit the nail salons....at least they should!

  • Lisa Carey-Houston Family Examiner 4 years ago

    How interesting and yet one more thing I need to worry about when I visit the nail salon!

  • Leigh Ann-Norfolk Workplace Examiner 4 years ago

    Whoa....never even thought about these being a source of UV light. Guess I need to stop using them. Thanks so much for the informative article!

  • Cindi 4 years ago

    I also have to wonder how healthy it is to breathe the fumes at the nail salon or have acrylic nails. I'm an all-natural girl myself.

  • Dr. vuong 4 years ago

    i dont think nails uv lights are reaLLY THAT bad to your skin. if you really compare between uv light, tanning beds and the sun. really uv lights are nothing. and the time when you dry your nails under the lights is really not long enough to damage your skin.
    please think twice. This artical really hurt thousands of nails bussiness, especially in this economy.

  • lisa 4 years ago

    i have been wearing nails 20 yrs. my nails are fine. i also think nails uv lights are not that bad. my nails perfect.

  • mary 4 years ago

    only people who are lacking of knowlege would believe nails uv lights damage skin. those lights never strong enough to harm skin, especially, the lenghth of drying time.

  • Kimberley Zagoren 4 years ago

    Thanks for getting this info out to the public. I never would have thought that these dryers could lead to skin cancer but it certainly does make sense.

  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    I have been wondering about this. Thanks for having a scientific test to prove the damage. Those who "think" it is okay are ignoring valuable research and fact.

  • Profile picture of Sheryl Jester
    Sheryl Jester 3 years ago

    Very interesting

  • Ann Parker 3 years ago

    I've gotten UV Manicures for years and I love having perfect nails for weeks afterwards. I was worried about UV exposure even though the jury seems to be out on the risk. I've started using UV protective gloves from www.agelessnails.com and I don't worry about it anymore one way or the other.

  • Anonymous 2 years ago

    I got mine here: http://spagenius.com