The nail salon is a great place to go, relax, and get great looking nails, but there are also hidden dangers lurking in some salons that you need to know about. Nail salons that don't follow correct cleaning procedures, that reuse their equipment on all people without disinfecting them, and who fail to clean the drains in their foot baths and the chairs customers sit on are putting their customers at risk.
Dirty equipment, drains, and even the tiniest knick in the skin can land a customer in the hospital. The infections can be serious and sometimes deadly. They can lead to lifelong health problems or painful medical treatment.
What can be done to prevent picking up an infection from a nail salon? The first thing you should do is always visit a reputable nail salon. While this isn’t a sure-fire way of preventing an infection, it is safer than using a salon that is less well known.
You should also pay attention to where your technician gets her equipment from and what she does with the equipment after she is done. It should come from and go to a disinfecting solution where the germs are killed off.
Another option is to buy your own manicure set and ask your technician to use the equipment on you. This way, you avoid most of the shared equipment. You can also offer to pay a nail technician to come to your home to give you a manicure and pedicure using only the equipment you purchase.
14 Breathing Problems
According to OSHA, people who work in nail salons are exposed to numerous chemicals everyday. Customers, too, are exposed to the chemicals used to have their nails done. Some of the disinfects and artificial nail products they use (quaternary ammonium compounds and methyl methacrylate) can even cause asthma. Formaldehyde, found in nail polish and nail hardener, can cause breathing problems. To avoid some of these problems, the nail salon you visit should be well ventilated to allow the chemical vapors to escape. To avoid the risk of breathing in hazardous fumes, you will need to wear a respirator.
13 Fungal Infection
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection that can easily be spread in public places. It is often picked up in public showers and can be spread by sharing shoes or walking barefoot in areas with a lot of barefoot traffic. You can also pick it up at the nail salon.
Athlete’s foot loves heat and moisture - two things common at the nail salon. The foot baths given before a pedicure are natural breeding grounds for athlete’s foot and all it takes is one person with the fungus to potentially infect dozens of other people. To avoid the spread of athlete’s foot, the nail salon needs to clean the foot baths and the drains after each use. A simple rinse off will not do, because the athlete’s foot will survive. Instead, an anti-fungal cleaning agent needs to be used to clean the boxes and drains.
12 Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver. In nail salons, it can be spread through contact with infected blood. Dirty nail tools and unwashed hands can spread the virus. The only way the nail salon can protect the customers is by thorough cleaning the instruments, chairs and foot baths, and by wearing gloves when handling used tools. Bleach and disinfectant sprays should be used to clean the areas of the virus. Also, as a customer, you should refuse having your cuticles cut and try to avoid getting any cuts or nicks in the skin where the virus can enter the body.
Getting warts, caused by the contagious HPV (human papillomavirus), is a very real possibility when visiting the nail salon. Warts are easily transferred from person to person and the virus can enter the body through a tiny cut or nick in the skin. Common warts and palmer warts are often found on hands whereas plantar warts are more commonly found on the feet. The warts can be transferred to you if the instruments are not thoroughly cleaned between customers. Pumice stones should not be used on multiple customers because the stone can spread the virus. If you wish to further protect yourself from the risk of infection, bring your own pumice stone to your appointment and make sure your nail technician puts on a new pair of gloves before working on you.
10 Contaminated Instruments
The tools used in nail salons are used on hundreds and possibly thousands of people. The instruments are considered contaminated after each use and unless the tools are soaked in a disinfectant for 10 to 30 minutes, the tool can pass on diseases and skin infections to other people. Think about it. Blood, skin, nail, fungus, and numerous other things can get onto these tools. They should be handled with gloved hands before they are disinfected. To avoid contamination and the risk of catching something at the nail salon, ask the technicians about their disinfectant policy. Do they soak the instruments in disinfectant after each use? Pay attention to where they put their tools after they are done with a customer and where they get their new tools from for a new customer. Does the nail salon use UV sanitizing boxes after disinfecting the tools? Are the tools kept covered after cleaning or are they left out in the open to gather germs? Ask questions and make observations before trusting anyone with your health.
9 Swine Flu
Swine flu or, more correctly, H1N1, is a constant worry for parents and the elderly during flu season. It is a highly contagious strain of the flu that can be easily spread at the nail salon. This flu strain can survive outside the body for up to 8 hours and it can be spread by coming into contact with any bodily fluids from an infected person. Coughs and sneezes can contaminate equipment. To try and avoid the swine flu, avoid contact with anyone who is exhibiting flu-like symptoms. If an employee at the nail salon is sick, cancel your appointment. Make sure that all equipment is thoroughly cleaned after each customer and that your nail technician washes her hands and changes her gloves between customers.
8 Toenail Fungus
According to the Huffington Post, there are thousands of documented cases of customers getting toenail fungus from visits to the nail salon. Being a fungus, toenail fungus loves a moist, warm environment. This is exactly what is gets in the foot baths given before a pedicure. Lack of or improper cleaning of the foot tubs and drains can easily help the spread of toenail fungus. The tiniest cut in your skin can allow the fungus to invade your system, leading to yellow, brittle nails that can separate from the nail bed. The only way to prevent the spread of the fungus is to make sure that the nail salon you visit uses proper cleaning procedures between customers and that the foot bath drains are properly cleaned and disinfected between uses.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is commonly believed to be a superbug that is only caught in the hospitals. Nothing could be further from the truth. You also face the risk of MRSA at unsanitary nail salons. Think about it. Nail salons cater to all people, sick and healthy. A customer may have undetected MRSA and visit the nail salon for pampering. Hospital employees and released patients can unknowingly bring MRSA along to the salon. Nail files and foot baths can assist in the spread of MRSA. Only salons that practice proper sanitization methods can avoid spreading the superbug from patron to patron.
In 1998, Kristina Preston got her first manicure, but instead of loving it, she noticed that her cuticles were burning after she left the salon. A few days later, blisters developed on all her fingers. She went to the doctors and tested positive for herpes and bacterial infections. ABC News reports that she won her case against the nail salon that gave her the medical problems and she was awarded $3.1 million.
Unclean cuticle cutters may have been what caused the painful medical problems for Kristina Preston, but herpes can be transferred to any unwary customer who visits a salon that does not practice proper sanitary procedures.
5 Skin Cancer
Gel manicures may be trendy, but they can be dangerous to your health, too. UV lights are used to seal the gel polish, increasing a person’s risk of skin cancer. Gel manicures can also cause nails to become brittle and your nails can start cracking and splitting apart. While you may love the look and treatment you get for the gel manicures, consider using traditional nail polish, instead. Even better, check out the nontoxic nail polishes that are now available and bring your own favorite brand and color along with you to have your nails done.
In 2014, Daily Mail gave a report about a woman who contracted HIV by using shared manicure equipment. The equipment was not cleaned between uses and it became contaminated with the blood of the woman’s cousin (who was later diagnosed with HIV) and she became infected with the HIV virus. While doctors remind us that the chances of getting HIV from a manicure are very rare, you should stay vigilant and aware of your salon’s cleaning and disinfecting practices.
3 Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions to the chemicals used at nail salons are fairly common. According to OSHA, nail salons use chemicals that can cause irritated skin, eyes, and throat in sensitive people. Nail polish remover is a common product that can trigger allergic reactions as can the formaldehyde found in some nail polishes and nail hardeners. To avoid having a serious allergic reaction while you are at the nail salon, you will need to know what you are allergic to. If you have certain brands that you know you can use, bring those products along and ask your nail technician to use those items on you instead of those already available at the salon.
Have you ever walked in to a nail salon and walked out with a manicure and a headache? There are many chemicals used in a nail salon that can cause headaches. Headache causing products listed on OSHA include nail polish remover, nail polish, and fingernail glue. When choosing a nail salon to visit, choose one that has plenty of ventilation. Ventilation should be turned on while the business is in operation and ventilated tables should also be on when in use. If you suffer from severe headaches while getting your nails done, a respirator can help eliminate the headache by removing the chemicals from the air you are breathing.
1 Mycobacterium fortuitum
In 2000, over 100 customers visiting the same salon became infected with a skin infection spread by contaminated drains in the foot baths. While the skin infections were treated with antibiotics, the infection caused by Mycobacterium fortuitum can cause large boils on the feet and legs that may need to be lanced by a medical professional. Not only should you learn about the cleaning practices at your local nail salon, you should also avoid shaving your legs before getting a pedicure. A simple nick on the skin gives bacteria easy access to your body, allowing the infection to spread.