UV nail lamps do not appear to significantly increase the lifetime risk of keratinocyte carcinoma — a type of non-melanoma skin cancer — in consumers, reports a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Authors Alina Markova of Massachusetts General Hospital, the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Martin Weinstock of the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center sought to quantify the artificial UV radiation emitted by UV nail lamps at nail salons and compare their carcinogenic potential with that of commonly used phototherapy devices.

The narrowband UVB used for phototherapy, which is a common dermatological treatment, is “viewed as low risk, although not as zero risk, for the development of keratinocyte carcinoma,” according to the authors. The authors concluded that the UV nail lamps primarily emitted UVA with no detectable UVB or UVC, and that their study of three UV nail lamps “reveals that such exposure is a tiny fraction of a single NBUVB [narrowband UVB used for phototherapy] course, and hence does not produce a clinically significant increased risk of developing skin cancer.” Markova and Weinstock further say that “dermatologists and primary-care physicians may reassure patients regarding the safety of these devices.”

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