You love your weekly visits to the salons but are slightly worried about the diseases you hear you can catch at salons, especially nail salons? You are right to be concerned, because dangerous diseases are lurking in most cheap nail salons who don’t consider hygiene as their No. 1 priority.
Today most nail salons are doing great business. They will cut and file your nails, offer amazingly relaxing manicures and pedicures, and foot spas are the top procedures that make salons milk more money from their clients. You will be very happy with the technician dealing with you because your hands and feet look real pretty and you will even tip her generously.
But did you know that the very same technician may be the reason that so many women contract serious infections at nail salons? Now you may wonder how that is possible. But did it occur to you that all that clipping and buffing may result in small nicks and wounds around your nails that go unnoticed? And these wounds become entry points for infections to spread; especially when the manicure-pedicure equipment isn’t sterilized after every single use.
In fact, based on a study done by Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine, who has studied salon infections and safety, there are many infections one needs to worry about in a salon based on the fact that technicians are often under-trained and the same equipment is used multiple times on multiple clients.
So let us find out what risks you are exposing yourself to every single time you visit a nail salon, and also discuss some ways in which you can avoid these infections. After all, we don’t want to give up on the pampering foot spas or the indulgent mani-pedis every month, do we?
1. Athletes Foot
This is a serious fungal infection, that isn’t just limited to athletes. The name comes from the fact that athletes are most prone to it, considering they wear the same sweat soaked socks for longer. But that doesn’t mean you cannot get this, because all it takes for Athletes foot to get to work is a moist and confined environment, which is exactly what your foot spa offers!
The pedicure bath of a salon becomes the breeding ground for this infection, especially since most salons have just one or two of these. Lots of feet are going in the same tub, and often that beautician does nothing but simply rinse the tub after each client has used it. A good salon will ensure that the foot tub is thoroughly cleaned between each client, but do they always have the time for that? Sadly, this is not so. And the reason is that they have back to back appointments and not enough time to do the cleaning.
So what can you do? As an informed client, you must insist that any foot tub you put your precious feet in to be cleaned with an anti-fungal cleaning agent to ensure that any fungus on the surface is removed. A light rinse just doesn’t cut the deal!
How can you not consider this possibility – someone who had contagious warts put their feet or hands in the same soaking tub and now you are prone to the infection too if the tub isn’t sanitized properly? With so many hands and feet made to look pretty every day, there is a high percentage of chance that some of those hands and feet carried contagious infections. For example warts, which are caused by HPV or human pappillomavirus. Warts spread through personal contact with an infected person, especially if there is a break or tear on the skin’s surface. Hands can have palmer warts or common warts and feet usually have common warts and plantar warts. And the bad news is that all of these are contagious!
So what can you do? Make sure that a salon worker uses a fresh pumice stone to scrub your feet, or better still, bring your own from home. Also ensure that the technician used gloves while working on your hands and feet, and these gloves are changed after every appointment.
3. Mycobacterium Fortuitum
Now this one is also not uncommon in salons, especially if you use a foot spa. You are especially susceptible if you use a soak before leg shaving. This very potent M.Fortuitum bug results in large boils on the toes, feet and legs and can even become open sores. Though potent antibiotics can treat the infections, sometimes the boils leave behind ugly scars.
So what can you do? Make sure you are aware of any bugs doing the rounds and keep an eye on on any news related to M.Fortuitum. Question the salon owner about their cleaning methods, ask them if they are aware of the risks of M.Fortuitum infections. If they are, ask them how they tackle the risk to ensure their salon will not spread infection. If they haven’t heard of it, we suggest you change your salon.
4. The superbug – MRSA
This staph infection is called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA and is a seriously bad infection. It can leave a patient severely scarred, and can lead to amputations and death even. So this isn’t something you want to take lightly. The good news – MRSA is not common. The bad news – MRSA cannot be treated easily with antibiotics.
But why you should be concerned is because MRSA can easily spread at salons, because the infection can hide beneath finger nails. Within 24 hours your hands will be painful and fingers will not bend easily. Within another day the skin around infected area will swell up, crack open and ooze pus. Ouch, doesn’t that sound painful?
So what can you do? Ensure that your salon worker sterilized nail files, nail cutters and cuticle pushers between uses on different clients. Ideally, all nail equipment should be soaked for 10 minutes in a strong disinfectant. Ensure she uses a fresh nail buffer on you. And once again, make sure that she uses gloves at all times and also disinfects the foot soak before you put your feet in there.
5. Swine Flu or H1N1 Virus
Now this one made big news last year. It crept upon people like ordinary virus, because the symptoms were the same, but the treatment was quite complicated. It is a highly contagious virus, simply because it is new on the block and most people don’t have immunity strong enough to fight off the infection. The infection or virus can survive for up to 8 hours outside the body, which only means that a contaminated customer at the salon can unknowingly give it off to many others! It spreads through contact mainly when a person coughs or sneezes and puts their hand in front of their mouth. That same hand comes in contact with another person and spreads the infections.
So what can you do? Make sure all salon workers are wearing disposable gloves that are changed between clients. All instruments are sterilized well and if you find that your salon technician has a cold or cough, reschedule your appointment. Be safe after all its all about your health.
Getting a nice foot spa and pedicure, manicure is supposed to make you feel good about yourself. But don’t have blind faith on your salon’s hygiene protocols, it is best to challenge them and check even the smallest details possible. Because health should be your priority.