Pedicure or Podiatrist

by Danica Smith on March 27, 2014

Pedicure                                                    or                             Podiatrist ?

???? nail-salon-bugs-1

By Danica Smith

In the news recently, I saw that there has been an outbreak in feet infections from nail salons and it made me realize that I don’t know much about what’s happening when I get a pedicure so I am writing this post to inform people about things they can do to avoid any harm.

We all like getting our nails done. It’s relaxing, makes us look pretty, and is a fun bonding activity, but what if we were to end up with permanent purple scars? Not too much fun then. There has been a recent outbreak of infections on feet from nail salons in California and Richmond, Virginia but it doesn’t stop there. 20/20 investigation show did a study to see just how many nail salons were practicing proper sanitary care and found that 24 out of the 27 tested by Esosterix Inc. (a laboratory specializing in infection and disease control) had possible disease-causing fungi and bacteria (abcnews). I personally think this is outrageous and makes me wonder why I have ever gotten a pedicure. Scarily enough, these findings weren’t exclusive to Richmond and California, they were also found in Dallas, Pheonix, Boston, and Houston (abcnews).

We don’t pay attention to the small details when we get our nails done. That is our time to relax and get pampered, but we need to start paying attention. Nail technicians are using emery boards on more than one customer, not washing the bowl for your feet enough, or reusing the tools for more than one client. These are all illegal practices because of the obvious safety concerns. Buffers, nail files, and scrubbers should only be used once (Americannews). If they are not, infectious bacteria builds up in the missed spots so the next customer is at risk. Common bacteria found in the foot spas are Mycobacterium fortuitum, which is found naturally in water and soil and cause cutaneous infections (EPA). The screens and tubes of the footbaths are the hot spots for the bacteria because they are cleaned the least and are hard to remove (EPA). They form dense biofilms, which are layers of cells and proteins from bacteria build up (EPA). If you see a bump that looks like a bug bite after getting your nails or toes done, look out for it because it could grow into a boil and will leave scars (dol). The tools nail technicians use is also a huge concern. They are supposed to be washed in warm, soapy water and then placed in a disinfectant for 10 to 15 min and then placed in a sterilizing machine between each customer. I don’t know about you but I have definitely seen nail technicians just throw them in a vat of mysterious blue liquid before and thought that was normal. My guess is that it’s not.

Now you are all wondering what you can do to be safer when getting your nails done (if you still want to go risk it). These are some tips from the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) website on how to protect your skin from infections.  Don’t go to the spa with open cuts or abrasions because microorganisms can enter the skin. Also along those lines, don’t shave your legs before going, use a hair removal cream or wax 24 hours before going to the spa. Really any skin imperfection like a bruise, bug bite, scab, or anything else can be an entrance for a bacterial infection. The salons should use proper hospital grade disinfectant for the baths, such as some Lysol brands, Weiman germicidal solution, and Clorox (EPA).  The baths should be cleaned between each customer as well as nightly and has a cleaning time of 10min so, if you see them not cleaning the bath before your pedicure, SPEAK UP! Lastly, be observant of the salon. Look to see if there are old magazines or nail polishes with the color separated from the liquid because they might not be the cleanest salons and using old products. Also, make sure to check to see if your technician is licensed because that has been a huge problem. Don’t be afraid to ask to see the license or the facility grade or ask for a new scrubber because these are all things they are supposed to be doing. It’s your body so you need to be the advocate for it.


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