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Miss Illinois Shares Warning After Cancer Diagnosis Likely Caused By Gel Manicures

Karolina Jasko - Instagram/Max Pixel

Gone are the days of painting your nails and waiting for what feels like forever for them to fully dry.

Gel polishes, which dry instantly and guarantee no chipping for up to three weeks, have transformed the mani-pedi game, so it's no wonder they've become one of the most requested options at salons.

However, there are many people who still refuse to place their trust in the longwear polish, and after reading about one beauty queen's story, you might have some doubts too.

Despite their popularity, gel manicures do come with some downsides, including weakening and peeling of the nails, aging of the skin, and even worse, risk of skin cancer.

While some studies have found that your weekly or monthly gel manicure, which involves curing the polish under a UV light, isn't enough to increase your risk of developing skin cancer, some dermatologists and health experts don't necessarily agree and urge people to protect their skin before exposing it to the light.

For 20-year-old Karolina Jasko, she didn't heed the warnings until it was too late.

The current Miss Illinois did not take precautions before exposing her skin to the harmful light, and ended up getting diagnosed with melanoma when she was just 18.

"I got a black vertical line under my right fingernail and I never really noticed it because I always had acrylics," Jasko explained, adding that the line turned out to be one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer.

"The doctor said I most likely got it from getting my nails done at the nail salon, from the light," she said.

The risk of melanoma is higher in those like Jasko, who have a history of the disease in their family. The UV light causes damage to the skin cells, which in turn triggers genetic defects that manifest in the form of tumors.

Dr. Carolyn Jacob, the director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, recommends using "a sunscreen that has a physical blocker like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to cover all of your skin."

As a result of the disease, Jasko is now left with a permanent scar on her thumb, but she's thankful that she was lucky the cancer was caught before it spread and caused more damage.

"I'm a little self-conscious about it, but I was lucky," Jasko told UPI. "The doctors originally thought they would have to remove my whole thumb, and you never realize how much you use your right thumb until you think about losing it."

Karolina Jasko's thumb
Jasko nearly lost her thumb after developing nail melanoma believed to have been caused by the UV light used to cure her gel manicures.Fox/The Sun

She is now using her platform to spread awareness about melanoma and the dangers of gel manicures.

"Being Miss Illinois USA helps me a lot because I get to talk about it with large groups of people and I feel like I get to bring awareness,” she said.

As with any type of cancer, early detection is key, so you should regularly examine your nails and the skin around it. Even though discoloration can be caused by a number of other factors, like bruising, you shouldn't take that chance. If you notice changes to your nails, especially new dark lines, you should consult a doctor right away.

[H/T: AmoMama]

Have you ever gotten a gel manicure?

Awa has been writing for Shared for 3 years. She is a serial snacker who unapologetically loves celebrity gossip. Drop her a line at awa@shared.com.