Nail salon safety is in the spotlight after a customer said she received serious burns while getting a pedicure at a Kansas salon.
Cindy Dillon told Fox 4 in a report published last week that she was been diagnosed with second- or third-degree burns sustained during a pedicure at the salon. She believes that the burns came from a callus remover that was accidentally applied to the top of her foot and followed by a treatment that involved hot towel and plastic wraps. Fox 4 later uncovered that the salon had previously received two health citations for poor sanitation, but the state of Missouri doesn’t make the findings from these inspections a matter of public record.
What sorts of health issues could a nail salon have? It turns out, plenty. One ABC News investigation tested the surfaces and tools in 27 nail salons and found that two dozen of them had bacteria and fungi that could be directly responsible for conditions including skin sores, burns, and other medical problems. This also doesn’t account for technician error during a treatment itself, for example using excessively hot water or towels or misusing skin care products and nail instruments.
Unfortunately, Dillon’s experience isn’t uncommon. In 2013, a woman in New York reportedly received severe burns after a nail technician left a callus-removing solution on her feet for too long. Additionally, a man in Texas allegedly got second-degree burns in 2014 after having his feet submerged in scalding hot water at a salon.
What should you check out before giving a nail salon your business? Dermatologist Whitney Bowe tells Allure that she always recommends seeing a technician’s certification and ensuring that all tools are clean and sterilized properly in liquid disinfectant. A technician shouldn’t be using a sterilizing “oven,” she says, because it may not actually kill all bacteria. The pedicure area should always be disinfected, and equipment like nail files should be disposed of between patrons. “I often tell my patients to bring their own manicure kit,” she notes. “Better safe than sorry.”
In addition to looking for a physically clean space, Bowe encourages clients to speak up when they’re getting their nails done if anything seems unhygienic. In particular, she warns people to avoid acrylic nails and to never remove cuticles or push them back too hard. “Even pressing or pushing the cuticles back aggressively without removing them can do harm,” she explains. “The pressing or pushing action, if done too harshly, can actually damage what’s called the nail matrix, and lead to ripples and uneven nails. The damage can be permanent.”
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