Is your nail salon safe?

Customers treating themselves to a manicure or pedicure could be getting more than they bargained for from their local nail salons.

Foot baths and manicure implements can harbour dangerous bacteria, according to an ABC News article.

More than 100 women were infected with a tuberculosis-type bacterium when they went to a nail salon in California. The bacteria cause painful, slow-healing sores that leave dark purple scars even after they're healed.

The owner of the nail salon admitted to state investigators that he never cleaned the suction screens in the footbaths where debris from hair, skin and nails accumulate - that is where the bacteria is believed to have built up.

ABC investigated another 27 salons and found bacteria at almost all of them. The majority of the salons simply had poor sanitation practices. Nail buffers and emery boards, which are supposed to be thrown away after one use, were being used on customer after customer.

While things like using the same pumice stone can spread fungus, the biggest concern is with blood-borne contaminants.

If someone is doing a manicure on you and blood gets on the instrument and if the instrument is not sterilised, the next client could be exposed to whatever blood-borne pathogen you may have, which could include anything from hepatitis C to HIV. Manicurists often clip stray cuticles and nip skin around the nail, so this is a real issue.

So, how do you know if your salon is up to par? Check for a visibly posted license. Ask if your salon sterilises instruments. Just dipping them briefly in some cleaning agent is not sufficient. A new set of instruments should be used for each client, and clients should be able to keep those instruments. Also, look around: if the salon doesn't look clean, your chances of infection could be greater.

Read more:
Piercings and tatoos
Psychology of beauty

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