Woman shares warning over fears cancer was triggered by manicure

After a stressful day (or week), there's nothing better than doing something we love to unwind, whether that's an evening spent bingeing Netflix on the sofa, going out for drinks with pals or a relaxing trip to the nail salon. But, for one woman, that trip to the nail salon didn't go quite as expected, and doctors believe a bad manicure caused her to develop cancer under her fingernail.

Speaking to Fox 11, mum-of-three Grace Garcia recalled how – after going to a different nail salon than usual – she noticed damage to her fingernail that was cause for concern. "It was a new salon. I did not want to go to my original place because they were booked. The tech was aggressive with my cuticle... it hurt a lot. It looked like a blister," she explained, adding that when her finger did not heal after three months, she visited her GP who referred her to a dermatologist.

After a biopsy, it was discovered that Garcia had squamous cell carcinoma that was caused by an infection of high-risk human papillomavirus, according to her doctor, Dr Teo Soleymani.

"Interestingly almost every single skin cancer I’ve dealt with that involved fingers or nails has been associated with high-risk HPV," Dr Soleymani said, noting that he believes Garcia's manicure may have triggered the development of the cancer. However, Garcia's case is rare, with Dr Soleymani stressing that: "Rarely do we see high-risk squamous cell carcinoma arising from this but I have had half dozen with this phenomenon."

doctor believes woman developed cancer after manicure
Ippei Naoi - Getty Images

According to the NHS, human papillomavirus – better known as HPV – is a common condition spread via any skin-to-skin. Most people who have HPV do not realise and do not have any problems.

However, in some cases, certain types of HPV can cause genital warts or abnormal changes in the cells that can sometimes turn into cancer – such as cervical cancer or, in Garcia's case, squamous cell carcinoma.

Commenting on Garcia's case, Dr Deborah Lee at Dr Fox's Online Pharmacy says that it's "likely to be HPV-related" but not directly caused by the manicure.

"I think it’s unlikely that the manicure itself caused this lady’s skin cancer," Dr Lee tells Cosmopolitan UK. "It may have already started to grow and the trauma of the manicure caused it to grow faster and be identified more quickly."

The expert adds that Garcia's case should serve as a reminder to us all to be more wary of HPV. Dr Lee explains that there are currently no tests for HPV, but rather this is done as part of cervical screening.

"It’s imperative to have regular cervical smears," she stresses, noting that those with chronic illnesses or suppressed immune systems are at a higher risk. "Report any lumps, bumps, sore or bleeding areas on the genitalia, or around the fingernails, or in the mouth, to your GP without delay," Dr Lee adds, as well as getting the HPV vaccine if it is offered.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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