With certain hairdos causing hair loss and unsanitary nail salons spreading infections, one has to wonder, how often do we put our health on the line in the name of beauty? Here are some of the not-so-ordinary health hazards that we encounter in our everyday upkeep.
Hair Dye Dangers
Hair dye may be a must for your tresses, but it may also increase your risk for certain types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer involving the lymph nodes, according to a recent study conducted by Yale University published in the 'American Journal of Epidemiology.' The study found that women who started dyeing prior to 1980 had a 30 percent increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, compared with those who had never used hair dye. Among women who began using hair dye in 1980 or later, there was an increased risk only for those using dark colored dye.
Check Your Lotion Label
Do you use Dermabase cream, Dermovan, Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream or Vanicream lotion? Because these four creams contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and/or mineral oil, you may be increasing your odds of skin-cancer-related tumors, according to a June 2008 study published in the 'Journal of Investigative Dermatology.' These four brands of lotion were applied topically to UVB-pretreated mice—meaning the mice had a high risk of developing tumors, comparable to humans who have had heavy exposure to sunlight early in life but develop skin cancer later in life. The study found that these creams increased the rate of formation and number of tumors in mice, compared with a control group who were treated with a lotion without mineral oil and SLS. The authors of the study note that mouse skin is much thinner and more permeable than human skin and further studies are needed to determine the effects on humans.
Colored Contacts Aren't Just an Accessory
Using any type of contact lens puts you at risk for conditions such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), corneal ulcers, corneal abrasion and vision impairment or blindness. "Buying contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous!" cautions the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To lower your chances of eye damage, make sure your contacts are legitimate. You must get an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional, obtain a prescription and buy the lenses from an eye care professional or a vendor that requires a prescription. Care for your contacts includes cleaning, disinfection and scheduling follow-up eye exams.
Unsanitary Nail Salons
Common manicure and pedicure health hazards, including allergic reactions, bacterial infections, candida (also known as yeast) and warts, can result from chemical exposure, unsanitary conditions and the improper attachment of false nails. In extreme cases, unsanitary conditions can lead to gangrene, as well as serious infectious diseases such as Hepatitis, HIV or staph infection. When used improperly, nail cosmetics can lead to nail diseases, such as paronychia, onycholysis and brittle nails, according to a 2006 study conducted by Columbia University's Department of Dermatology. Hand washing can reduce risk of infection.
Hair extensions have been reported to cause headaches and even traction alopecia—a type of hair loss concentrated around the hairline and forehead. Certain hairstyles, including tight braids like corn rows and tight ponytails, can pull hair too tight and can cause this kind of hair loss. A recent study published in the 'British Journal of Dermatology' found that extensions, along with corn rows, were among hairdos associated with this kind of hair loss.
Extractions Gone Bad
An extraction, a facial procedure where an esthetician manually unclogs pores and removes blackheads, may involve a little less pampering and a little more pain than some other spa treatments. If done improperly or on someone with sensitive skin, extractions can cause broken capillaries and discoloration.
Lash and Brow Dyes Spell Disaster
"Never dye your eyebrows or eyelashes," warns the FDA. Any hair dye contact can damage your eyes and can cause blindess. For more information read the FDA's guide to hair dyes and relaxers.
Prevent Scalp Burns
"Any relaxer can burn your scalp if you use it the wrong way," according to the FDA. Avoid scratching your head or brushing your hair before using a relaxer. Protect your skin—apply petroleum jelly to your scalp before applying the relaxer. While once thought to pose a breast cancer risk, the American Cancer Society (ACS) says using hair relaxers, even over a period of many years, does not appear to raise a woman's risk of breast cancer.
Bleaching Your Skin
Extended use of skin lightening creams can result in a condition called exogenous ochronosis, a darkened, bluish discoloration of the treated area, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). A 2008 study of skin bleaching cream use in women in Africa found that health complications included impaired wound healing and a predisposition to infections.
Toxic Beauty Products
Makeup, shampoo, skin lotion, nail polish and other personal care products contain chemical ingredients that lack safety data for humans. Meanwhile, some of these chemicals have been linked in animal studies to male genital birth defects, decreased sperm counts and altered pregnancy outcomes, according to a 2005 'Environmental Health Perspectives' article. A recent study published in 'Pediatrics' found that use of infant lotion, infant powder and infant shampoo was associated with increased infant urine concentrations of three kinds of phthalates, which could pose developmental health risks. You can search for the toxicity of your beauty products here at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Household Products Database and the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep cosmetic safety database.
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