Death by . . . Pedicure?

Before you soak your feet in one of those big comfy pedicure thrones with the remote controlled back massage, know this: states all around the country are adopting stricter regulations for nail salons, targeting those same whirlpool pedicure footbaths. 

Health officials had to investigate outbreaks of mycobacteria and staph infections in nail salons all over California and two types of rapidly growing mycobacteria were linked to the outbreaks. It’s believed harmful bacteria accumulates in improperly cleaned whirlpool foot baths. Their findings: “We believe that these rapidly growing mycobacterial infections associated with nail salons are underrecognized and may increase in prevalence.” 

A number of women reported infections and open sores that wouldn’t heal following pedicures, and after a death in Texas the mother of the woman who died sued a nail salon claiming an infection from a pedicure contributed to her daughter’s death. 

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation requires salons to run those pedicure thrones ten minutes between clients but I’ve been in a busy nail salon on a Saturday and there is no way they followed that rule. And don’t be fooled by those plastic liners. The danger isn in the actual bowl, but the little tubes on the side of each chair holding warm backwash. Only flushing can fix that.

A state senators wife actually died from a particularly resistant strain of flesh-eating bacteria she picked up from a pedicure. Flesh eating bacteria. From a pedicure. 

And don’t get me started in waxing. It. Is. Against. The. Law. For. A. Nail. Salon. To. Perform. A. Waxing. Service. Ever.

To legally wax you must attend cosmetology school and become licensed. Nail tech school never teaches the very specific sanitation and sterilization requirements for waxing so nail salons who wax easily spread bacteria and disease, some powerfully resistant to antibiotics. 

Waxing clients all over the country are fighting oozing open sores on underarms, legs and bikini area. I’m sure the services were cheaper than a traditional salon, but is the risk worth it?

Nail salons will change when we as clients demand it.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Be the first client first thing in the morning.

2. Insist on seeing a license.

3. Insist on seeing sterilization procedures.

4. Get dry pedicures.

5. Do not use a nail salon’s waxing services.

6. If the salon doesn’t feel clean, leave.

7.  Give your pedicure business to those salons making the extra effort towards sanitation, especially those using bowls instead of thrones. 

So, the last time I got a pedicure I looked around as young man sat down at my feet. “”Do you have a license?” I asked him. He looked to his boss, confused. You could have heard a pin drop in that salon. His boss actually asked me why I wanted it. “Because, I don’t want anyone working on me who isn’t licensed.” There, I said it out loud.

They both looked confused, but after a minute the manager shuffled through a stack of papers on her desk and brought me the young man’s license, so I knew he was legal. 

I sat at that big chair and placed my feet on the ledge of the bowl; no way would I risk putting my feet in that water. After about five minutes I heard the voice of another client in the background asking her technition, “Are these implements sterilized?”

Sometimes it just takes one brave soul to speak out and ask questions to give everyone else the courage of their voice. 

~ Deborah 

One comment

  1. Polish Perfect · June 10, 2017

    In crowded nail salons there is a bigger chance to catch an infection because staff is probably too busy to properly clean (or clean at all) filters and tools so my advice is to avoid crowded places (in happy hour, discounts, weekends, etc). Cheap places tend to focus on quantity over quality, so whirlpool or not, you are in danger from everything else


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