Summer is fast approaching. As sandal and flip-flop weather brings regular trips to the nail salon for pedicures, I wanted to give some tips on nail health. Watch the video from the AAD below for tips on nail salon safety. In addition to the great tips found in the video, I instruct my patients to keep an eye on their fingernails and toenails for new growths or discolorations of the nail plate or skin around the nails. Especially if you keep your toenails covered with polish year round, I suggest looking carefully at your nails while you are at the salon after the polish has been removed and before the new polish is applied. Any new dark spots or growths should be evaluated by a dermatologist. Also, ideally, come to your annual skin check visits at the dermatologist without nail polish on so that we can thoroughly check your nails.
Also a word on gel manicures. While gel manicures are very popular due to their increased durability and resistance to chipping, the UV light used to set the polish does cause skin damage and photoaging of the finger and hand skin. This could increase your risk of skin cancer in these areas so apply sunscreen to the tops of your hands or buy sun-protective gloves with the fingers cut off to shield your hands from the UV damage. The gel manicures also result in nail thinning, possibly due to the process of removing the polish. Moisturizing your nails daily with cuticle oil while the polish is on will help prevent destruction of the nail plate when the polish is removed.
Wishing you happy and healthy nails this summer season!
Kathryn O'Reilly, MD, PhD