Patient asked: I like to get my nails done around the holidays, but I heard on the news that the UV lamps at nail salons may cause age spots and even skin cancer. Do I really have to worry about this?

Dr.Kogan: While you do not necessarily need to worry about UV nail-drying lamps, a recent study in the Archives of Dermatology shows that there is reason to be wary. Researchers described the cases of two middle-aged women who developed non-melanoma skin cancer on their hands from exposure to the devices, which are similar to tanning beds in the amount of UV radiation emitted per meter squared. And like tanning beds, UV lamps emit mainly UVA rays, which are the most carcinogenic and known to cause photoaging (age spots, wrinkles and loss of elasticity). But it’s important to note that these women weren’t getting only “special occasion” manicures. One had been exposed to UV lamps every other week for 15 years. Most gel manicures need UVA exposure to “stick” to the nail surface, so this is something that especially gel manicure users should educate themselves about.

If you want to decrease your exposure risks, skip the lamps altogether and use instant-dry oil, quick-dry top coat or just a regular fan. Personally, I prefer a regular fan, to avoid any chemical exposure, except the nail polish itself of course.

Hands are truly the part of a woman’s body that gives away her age. Living in Southwest Florida, we are naturally exposed to more UVA and UVB throughout the year, so it is prudent to use SPF 30 or above on the hands if you are not in the sun during the day, and SPF 50 or above if you spend more that 30 minutes in the sun during the day. Your hands will thank you by remaining youthful for longer. Any laser client will confess just how tough and next to impossible it is to reverse sun damage on the hands. So, be smart and prevent photoaging now.