Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Do UVA Nail Lamps Pose Cutaneous Carcinogenic Risk?

By: Kayci Reyer
Posted: Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The risk of cutaneous cancer associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) nail lamps is low, according to a study recently published in Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine. Coauthored by Nahla Shihab, MD, of the Universita Indonesia, Hakarta, and Henry W. Lim, MD, of the Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, the study analyzed the existing literature on the effects of nail lamp irradiation to determine the safety of its use.

“Based on currently available data, the carcinogenic risk is low,” concluded the authors. “Nonetheless, the use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with [sun protection factor] > 30 or protective gloves before UV nail lamp exposure is recommended.”

Drs. Shihab and Lim sought to determine the effects of UVA radiation lamps used to photocure gel manicures. Although the existing literature revealed a debate over the level of skin cancer risk associated with nail lamp use, all cited studies found the equivalent of a single exposure to the UVA radiation in a nail lamp to be up to 1 day of outdoor sun exposure. A cited comparison to narrowband UVB therapy estimated that one must undergo more than 40,000 UVA treatments under a light-emitting diode nail lamp to reach the equivalent irradiance exposure of a single course of UVB therapy, suggesting that nail lamp exposure does not pose a significant carcinogenic risk.

Researchers cited a previous study finding that the fingernail blocked all UVB radiation and the overwhelming majority of UVA radiation (0.5%–2.5% penetration). The authors also reported literature indicating that factors such as UV radiation dose, amount and type of melanin in the skin, constitutional skin type, and amount of elastin and collagen in the skin all affect the skin response to UV radiation.

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