SOURCE: CLS Medical Advisory Board

December 04, 2006 15:51 ET

Medical Doctors Advise Consumers to Bring Own Tools to Nail Salons

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 4, 2006 -- Medical doctors throughout the US are encouraging consumers to bring their own nail tools to salons when getting manicures and/or pedicures in order to prevent the transmission of many diseases. Some nail salon patrons, however, are confused as to whether this precautionary measure is truly necessary. Members of the medical community consistently advocate that it is important for salon clients to bring their own tools in order to reduce their risks of contracting medically documented diseases in nail salons. "As an internal medicine physician, I consistently advise my patients to carry their own tools with them when they receive a professional manicure or pedicure. By using one's personal set of tools, consumers can reduce their risk of contracting nail fungus, warts, and even serious bacterial infections; these are conditions that I see routinely in my medical office," said Howard Parness, M.D., Internist, Dallas, Texas.

"As a practicing gastroenterologist who routinely treats patients with hepatitis (an illness which affects millions of Americans and has an annual mortality rate of approximately 15,000), I consistently educate my patients about the unsuspecting methods by which this grave disease is transmitted," added Jim O'Brien, M.D., Manchester, Conn. "I became concerned when it was brought to my attention that advice to refuse the use of a customer's personal set of nail tools at a salon was being promoted. Because hepatitis remains asymptomatic for 10 - 20 years, many do not know they are infected, and many who do know they are infected are too embarrassed to share this information with their nail technician or other personal hygiene providers. If nail technicians decline or discourage a client's request to use their personal set of tools in the salon, then they are creating a medically dangerous environment for nail salon consumers across the country."

O'Brien also states, "About 30 percent of people with chronic hepatitis do not know how they contracted the life-threatening virus. Sharing personal care items that can carry very small traces of blood (such as nail clippers, cuticle nippers, cuticle pushers, or nail files) are believed to contribute to those cases where carriers are unaware of how they contracted the disease."

Those within the nail industry who deny these risks (risks which have been documented in nationally recognized medical journals), support that the required state regulations are effective enough to eliminate these health concerns. However, many medical doctors disagree. "Most states only require cosmetologists and barbers to use low level hospital grade disinfectants which may or may not kill all of the microorganisms," states Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, M.D., Dermatologist, Houston, Texas. "To really be safe, I suggest bringing your own instruments."

Parness adds, "The risks are not only due to potential unhygienic practices seen in certain salons, but simply because there is always a risk when sharp tools (which can cut skin) are used on multiple people in the face of minimal monitoring of the cleaning techniques within cosmetic establishments. Even with some salons now purchasing autoclaves, I still advise carrying one's own tools since the salons are not monitored as stringently as medical offices and hospitals with regard to the consistent and proper use of these machines." Even if a salon looks clean and they have an autoclave (which is the only way to effectively sterilize tools according to hospital regulations), there is no guarantee that it is consistently used; especially when the salon is busy and there are many tools waiting to undergo the 45-minute cleaning process.

According to Geemee Chung, M.D., Infectious Disease Physician, Los Angeles, "Skin and soft tissue infections are commonplace in the practice of infectious diseases. Even minor trauma which may be sustained during seemingly routine nail care could lead to troublesome infections. Consumers should have the option of requesting the use of their own nail care tools as this can potentially reduce the risk of 'post' manicure/pedicure infections."

Parness adds that a client's personal set of tools used at the salon will be rendered sanitary through the cleaning methods which one uses to clean their home nail tools. This is because the only difference between the two scenarios (using a nail kit on oneself at home and using a personal kit at the salon) is that at the salon, a professional nail technician is using the tools on the nail treatment recipient as opposed to a non-professional. "In short, simply use your portable salon nail kit only on yourself, keep the tools in a protective carrying case, and wipe them before or after each use with alcohol, betadine solution, barbicide, or hydrogen peroxide."

Physicians who treat patients with diseases such as diabetes also support carrying one's own nail kit. There are many diabetics who have no secondary problems (such as circulation disorders or neuropathy), who routinely attend nail salons. According to Susan S. Davis, M.D., F.A.C.E., Endocrinologist, UCLA Medical Center, "I would advise that everybody bring their own tools to a nail appointment, especially diabetics; because they have to take extra care of their feet and you never know what you are going to pick up in a salon, especially from the foot tubs." It is therefore also important to also use a disposable tub liner on the small portable foot tub at each pedicure.

Carrying one's personal set of tools must always remain an option in the cosmetic industry. This practice should be supported by the nail industry not only to prevent healthy clients from contracting diseases, but also to prevent those who have diseases (such as nail fungus, warts, and hepatitis) from transmitting these ailments to patrons receiving cosmetic services after them.

At your next nail appointment, take a moment to notice the other customers receiving nail treatments. Then ask yourself how comfortable you would feel sharing personal care items with those random individuals and, hence, potentially contracting their medical problems. "With the growing numbers of people going to nail salons it becomes important to be aware of potential health risks found in these pedicure and manicure spas. Having your own personal nail kit with all of the essentials to manage your mani/pedi is a fantastic and simple way to do something healthful for yourself," explained Vicki Rapaport, M.D., Dermatologist, Beverly Hills, California.

Not only is it important for the nail technicians to welcome the request for clients to use their personal set of tools at the salon, but also, according to O'Brien, "for nail salon consumers to refrain from attending salons which discourage one from having their own tools used on them during their nail treatment; as salons which participate in this type of discouragement have clearly not been well educated on the health risks involved with their trade." Parness adds, "It is up to medical professionals to properly educate those within the nail industry and to correct any false information that is distributed to them by non-medical sources."

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