Salon Safety: Midlands woman pushes sanitary awareness after inf - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Salon Safety: Midlands woman pushes sanitary awareness after infection


A Midlands woman says a recent trip to the nail salon ended up with several trips to the doctor.

McKenzie Welsh, who works in sales at WIS, says she decided to treat herself to a manicure and pedicure to celebrate an upcoming beach trip. She says not long after her stop at the salon, one of her fingers began to bother her.

"It was getting red and kind of inflamed and hurt, but I thought, maybe I just snagged it on something," Welsh said.

When her finger continued to swell, her fiancé said it was time to see a doctor.

"When I went, the doctor told me, he asked, ‘Have you gotten a manicure recently?' and I said, ‘Well, yeah, about two weeks ago.'"

She said the doctor told her she had a staph infection, and that left her speechless.

"They said it was an infection under the nail bed and often how people get it is by going to a nail salon," said Welsh. "I was dumbfounded. I never thought that could happen just by going to get a manicure."

Dr. Emilio Perez-Jorge with Infectious Diseases at Lexington Medical Center says an infection after a manicure can be caused by one of two things:

"In some cases the person has an infection that they're not aware of," said Dr. Perez-Jorge, adding that when trauma is caused to the skin it can encourage existing bacteria to cause an infection.  

"In other cases the instruments and the utensils they use to work with the nail can be contaminated," said Dr. Perez-Jorge.

The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation requires salons to comply with a list of sanitary guidelines.

Cosmetology instructors at Remington College in Columbia say it's important to know those guidelines so you know what to look for.

"Now that I'm on the education side of it, I've started doing my research and realizing the disinfectant procedures are just not happening," said Shante Anderson, an instructor at Remington.

Instructor Danielle Lawson says the first thing you should do when you walk into a salon is ask yourself these questions: Does it look clean? Does it look like a clean environment?

That includes spotting a hospital grade disinfectant like Barbicide.

"Your regular household item like a 409 is not going to do it. That's not EPA registered," added Anderson.

Instructors say manicure bowls, pedicure tubs and reused instruments should all be cleaned the same way.

"You have to clean it with soap and water first," said Anderson. "Then you go and use your EPA registered disinfectant and let it sit for 10 minutes. If you see someone just instantly spray, you didn't clean out any debris or dead skin out of that container first."

Anderson said if you haven't seen how long tools have soaked, ask.

"When you walk in you can say, ‘Can you go ahead and let that brush sit in there for 10 minutes for me?" she added.

You can also take your own tools.

"I'd recommend bringing in your own brush that way you know you used it, and you're the only one that used it," said Anderson.

If you're getting a pedicure, instructors say don't shave your legs 24-48 hours before your appointment.

"That's open skin, and you may have shaved past that skin deeper than you thought," said Anderson. "You have an open sore you didn't know was there, you put your leg in that bowl and it's open to all of kinds of infection."

Welsh had to undergo two rounds of antibiotics and several Epsom salt treatments, but in the end she said it was a lesson she hopes others can learn from.

"I'm sure that I will get a manicure and pedicure again, but I'll definitely take my own tools, and I want to see the sanitization before I sit down in the chair and get it done," said Welsh.

Doctors say if you notice any signs of irritation or redness on your own hands or feet, do not go get a manicure or pedicure. Sanitary guidelines also say salons should reject any customer who appears to have signs infection prior to performing a treatment.

Officials with the Departments of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR) say they attempt to inspect each salon in the state once in a two year period.

If you have had a bad experience at a salon, they encourage you to file a complaint. A complaint form can be downloaded on LLR's web site here: The form must be filled out and then mailed to LLR.

When a complaint is filed, officials with LLR say the complaint is first analyzed to make sure the claim is substantiated, and then they assign the complaint to an investigator. Based on the findings, the case may be completely dismissed or it may be presented before the Board of Cosmetology for a formal hearing.

There is no specific place to see a list of complaints against salons, but the Board of Cosmetology lists all of its "orders" on its web site. Orders are judgments issued by the board which can be final action after a complaint investigation, as well as, when someone is simply awarded a license.

You can see the orders listed by the Board of Cosmetology here:

You can also check the status of a license by visiting:

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