Nail salon health risks: Are you aware?

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    A manicure and pedicure might be an important part of your beauty routine, but are you informed of all the nail salon health risks?

    • A lasting risk

    The latest rage in nail salons today is gel nail polish. Women, who normally don’t get manicures on a regular basis, are now flocking to nail salons to get this long-lasting nail color, experience. For $35 to $40, your manicure can last up to three weeks before chipping.

    Nail salons might pose risk to health

    The new gel nail polish requires exposure to ultraviolet light, which in turn can lead to cancer.

    This new gel nail polish is adding revenue to a six billion dollar nail industry. But, is the craze for long-lasting nail color a hazard to your health?

    The gel nail polish is set or cured with ultraviolet light. You have to put your hands under this light for several minutes after each color coat. This type of light can cause skin cancer.

    One way to prevent over-exposure from ultraviolet light is to apply sunblock to your hands before going under the light. Or, cut the tips off of gloves and wear them under the ultraviolet light.

    • What’s in my nail?

    Many nail polishes and removers, contain dibutyle phthalate (DPB). This chemical has been linked to cancer, and may damage women’s and men’s reproductive organs as well as the development of fetuses.

    The long-term effects of these chemicals are still unknown, though.

    Nail salons might pose risk to health

    Nail salons can pose a hazard to your health from the products you apply to your nails to the fumes coming from these chemicals.

    There are over 350 thousand licensed nail technicians in the United States. Many salon workers come into contact with these chemicals 8 to 10 hours a day.

    According to a California Breast Cancer Research Program,  2005 study, many Vietnamese immigrant workers in the California salon industry, reported acute health effects related to workplace chemicals. They complained of skin and eye irritation, difficulties breathing, headaches and asthma.

    Formaldehyde, phthalates, acetone, toluene, methacrylates and other volatile organic compounds are used in nail salon products. Fumes from these chemicals are a serious hazard.

    However, FDA says, “Many nail products that contain potentially harmful ingredients are allowed on the market because they are safe when used as directed.”

    • Who’s making sure these products are used properly?

    Unlike prescription drugs and treatments, cosmetics and nail products do not have to undergo clinical trials before being sold on the market. It is up to you to be informed of the risks and make a decision regarding your own health.

    • Five infections you can pick up at a nail salon
    Nail salons might pose risk to health

    Make sure you use your better judgement when choosing a nail salon. (Shutterstock photos)

    -Athlete’s Foot, a fungal infection that requires a moist, confined environment to take root and spread.

    -Warts can be spread if a salon worker uses the same pumice stone for different clients.

    -Hepatitis B and C can be spread with infected instruments like nail files, foot basins and buffers.

    MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. An antibiotic resistant infection, that in some cases can become fatal. MRSA can be spread through the sharing of infected nail files or other nail implements.

    • What can you do?
    1. You can avoid possible infections by bringing your own nail instruments to the salon, for example.
    2. Use your better judgment.
    3. Make sure the salon follows hygiene regulations. Permits and licenses should be updated and clearly visible.
    4. If the fumes are too strong, walk away! Even short-term exposure to these fumes, typical of a nail salon, pose a health risk.
    5. Find a reputable, licensed nail salon.
    6. If you’re paying too little for your services, you may end up getting more than you bargained for!

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