SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — It’s not just nail polish with toxic chemicals causing safety concerns. There is another hazard at nail salons that has some doctors suggesting women wear sunscreen before getting a manicure.

Ultraviolet nail dryers are in many nail salons. They harden the nail polish and give nails that glossy look in less than 10 minutes. It may be convenient, but Dr. Jean Tang, assistant professor of dermatology at the Stanford School of Medicine, said it could also be dangerous.

Think of the ultraviolet nail dryer as a miniature tanning bed. “UV light is normally present around us and it is sun light, but it’s a different type of sunlight,” Tang said. “It’s specifically UV-A.” This UV-A light is also used in tanning beds.

Tang added these ultraviolet rays are the reason we wear sun block. “There is a theoretical risk that this mini UV tanning bed used by nail salons can contribute to skin cancer,” she said.

A 2009 study first raised concerns about these ultra violet nail dryers. Two otherwise healthy middle-aged women developed skin cancer on the backs of their hands. The only connection they both had were long histories of drying their manicures under the ultra violet nail dryers.

“If you get your nails treated with these UV lamps many, many, times, I think that could increase your chance of cancer,” Tang said.

Although there is no concrete evidence that proves how much ultraviolet light it takes to develop skin cancer, Tang said those who use the machine on a regular basis should beware.

At My Nails salon in Santa Clara, Ann Nguyen said she prefers her clients dry their nails the old fashioned way, with a fan.

“The reason why we don’t carry a lot of UV lights is because we only use it for acrylic nails when the clients ask for gel,” she said. After knowing about the risk, more of Nguyen’s clients will be taking her up on it. “It’s unnecessary, it’s not like I need to dry my hands like that,” said Monzurat Oni.

(© CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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