The UV light used during the hardening process may increase one’s risk of skin cancer.
As suspected, exposing one’s hands to UV rays to “dry the gel” increases one’s risk of skin cancer. The UVA rays can penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin, causing DNA damage and skin aging.
In a report published in the American Academy of Dermatology, Dr. Chris Adigun, board certified dermatologist, states, “The UV dose that you receive during a gel manicure is brief, but it’s intense,” with repeated exposure causing more skin damage.
LED lights or wearing sunscreen while using the lamp, may provide some protection.
How do sunscreens work?
Sunscreens use chemicals to disperse or absorb UV rays. Inorganic compounds in sunscreen such a titanium dioxide or zinc oxide attempt to scatter the UV rays. Organic compounds such as PABA and oxybenzone attempt to absorb UV rays so they can’t damage the skin.
What’s the difference between UVA and UVB radiation?
UVA rays penetrate deeply into both the epidermis and dermis. They can cause premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, and skin cancer.
UVB rays are shorter and primarily affect the epidermis. They are responsible for causing sunburns as well as skin cancer.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The higher the SPF, the less sun photons enter the skin and cause damage. SPF primarily measures the protection against UVB rays. We multiply the SPF factor by how long it takes one’s skin to burn by the SPF number to determine the protection factor.
In theory, an SPF of 30 suggests your skin, if it burns within 10 minutes without protection, will not burn until 300 minutes has lapsed (30 times 10). However, we find this isn’t always the case. People sweat or swim and the sunscreen dissipates. Moreover many don’t put on the proper amounts (see below.)
So instead we use SPF as a grade to how much protection the product can offer.
An SPF of 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
An SPF of 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
An SPF of 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
As we see, the relationship is not linear, however the higher the SPF, the more protection we have against UV rays..
IMAGE FROM BADGERBALM
Although the SPF alludes to protection against burning, hence UVB rays, a sunscreen may still protect against both UVA rays and UVB rays if it’s a broad spectrum sunscreen.
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio.
She is also a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Touro University Nevada