I remember going to get my nails done for the first time when my mom booked me a nail salon birthday party in 4th grade. My mom let me invite 5 girls and we all were treated to a basic manicure followed by pizza and cake next door.
It was a huge treat to get my nails done at such a young age. Many years later I am still addicted to getting my nails done. I never feel fully dressed if my nails look bad, and during my years working in restaurants it was the only part of my uniform I had control over. It became a conversation starter when I picked an outrageous design, and I quickly started to have the reputation of the girl who always had great nails - even more pressure to go as often as possible to get a manicure.
I am very lucky that short of rude customer service, long waits, and maybe not liking the color I picked I never really had a nail salon horror story. It turns out that not everyone is so lucky. There's a lot of hidden dangers lurking in your nearby nail salon.
Fungus, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens all thrive in warm and wet environments that are commonly found in nail salons. It's important to note that salon employees have a much greater risk of injury than customers, so you do not need to be frightened away from treating yourself to a great manicure. With these few tips you can ensure that you remain injury free.
Gel Manicures Should be Saved for Special Occasions
For me, I finally thought it was worth it to get my nails done when the gel manicure started to gain popularity. The promise of your nails not chipping for a week or 2 made me sad that I had ever paid to get my nails done, only to chip them within hours.
It turns out that gel manicures pose a risk of possibly causing nerve damage. One such case made headlines a few years ago where a woman had excruciating pain every time something touched her nail beds. It took a visit to a neurologist who was able to break down the manicure process to understand how it could possible cause nerve damage. She believes that your skin has a chance of being nicked during the manicure process, and when you are exposed to chemicals following an injury the chemicals could potentially seep into your skin and cause nerve damage. Personal injury attorneys Ragain & Cook P.C. see countless cases each year that are directly related to the negligence of another party. Proving negligence of your nail salon may be incredibly difficult, but the pain could be with you for many years. Speak up for yourself if your skin is broken and ask your nail technician to stop the manicure if you feel unsafe about continuing.
Another risk posed by gel manicures is the use of UV lights to set the nails. Two cases of skin cancer were found on the hands of otherwise healthy woman. They had no background of cancer risk, but they both were exposed to UV nail lights. It is too small of a study to draw clear connections between UV nail lights and cancer, but it has left experts encouraging fans of gel nails to space out how often they go and apply sunscreen prior to your manicure. You should also let your nails air dry instead of using the nail dryers since most are powered by UV lamps.
Do Not Shave Before a Pedicure
It might be embarrassing to have someone up close and personal with legs that may have some visible stubble, but it greatly increases your risk of infection. Plan ahead and shave the day before, or just accept that they are most likely use to it as long as your are clean.
In 2000 an extreme case was investigated in California where over 100 pedicure costumers acquired Mycobacteria fortuitum from the whirlpool foot baths used during pedicures. The outbreak caused them to experience prolonged boils on their legs that resulted in scars. The majority of those infected had shaved prior to the service, and researchers found that the bacteria was found on nearly every foot bath tested - regardless if disinfectants were used. The study was unable to find a conclusive reason on why this bacteria is so prevalent in spas, but an outbreak is rare.
Another way to protect yourself is to find salons that use new plastic bags in the foot spa for each customer. This additional layer of protection may not have a huge impact, but it may also protect against other common viruses such as the ones that cause planters warts or athlete's foot.
Demand Cleanliness to Stay Safe
You are paying for a service when you enter any salon. This means that at any time you can stop the service if you are not comfortable with how it is going. Experts recommend that you should get to a nail salon early and examine what is going on around you. Are technicians cleaning tools between clients? Are the tables and floors kept clean? Are chemicals all labeled correctly? Do technicians wash their hands between clients? These are usually a good indication that the nail salon is committed to keeping a tidy workspace.
A few years ago I started to go to a salon that required that I brought my own tools with me. I loved that they were so dedicated to avoiding bacteria spreading from one client to another that they would not work on you if you did not purchase/bring back your own bag of equipment. If you do not want to be required to bring your own tools you should not feel ashamed about questioning where and how often they sanitize the ones they are using.
Never allow a nail technician to use a blade to cut your skin, especially when doing a pedicure. This is not legally allowed and it is a sign that the salon is most likely not following many other laws.
Getting a manicure and pedicure can be a great way to relax and treat yourself. It should be a fun experience, and shouldn't lead to infections or injury. These situations are rare to find, but it is important to know that they do happen so that you can be prepared if you ever find yourself in an uncomfortable salon. If you start to notice signs of infection around your nails in the days following your service be sure to see a doctor immediately.