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Gel manicures might raise risk of skin cancer

DENVER — It’s smart to slather on sunscreen when summer rolls around but it can be easy to overlook when heading to the nail salon to get your nails perfectly polished.

It’s fairly common knowledge among polished-up women that along with a trip to the salon there comes a small risk of contracting melanoma from the UVA lights aestheticians use to set acrylic and shellac manicures.

Now, a high-profile figure has shed new light on the cancer risk caused by the device used to cure the popular nail treatments.

Karolina Jasko, 20, has the title of Miss Illinois USA and is getting ready to compete in the Miss USA Pageant. As part of the beautifying process, Jasko has kept her nails in perfect condition for years.

She is speaking out about the UVA lights that have taken the toll on her hands and resulted in a melanoma diagnosis at the young age of 18. “I got this black vertical line on my fingernail and I never really noticed it because I had acrylics,” she said.

“The doctor said I most likely got it from getting my nails done from the nail salon from getting acrylics from the light,” Jasko said.

A family history of melanoma can also increase someone’s risk of contracting the cancer from a manicure that uses the UVA light to seal the polish.

Dr. Carolyn  Jacob is the director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology and said that getting your nails done with the device is a smaller version of a whole body “fake and bake” in a tanning bed.

Jacob offers a few tips for women who will find the habit of skipping their monthly gel manicure too tough to break.

“Use a sunscreen that has a physical blocker like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to cover all of your skin,” Dr. Jacob said.

There are also protective gloves that some salons offer to clients. Finally, a regular non-shellac manicure doesn’t require the light and omits the risk.

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