NBC10, Philadelphia, PA

Nail salon safety

 August 17, 2001


by Tracy Davidson


When you get a manicure or a pedicure you expect to look great and feel great. Most nail salons are clean and safe, but our NBC10 Consumer Alert investigation finds that if they're not, you could be headed for big problems. NBC10’s Tracy Davidson has the story.

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PHILADELPHIA - "IT’S NOT been fun at all," said Nicki Mosalisi. "I’ve had to wear pants every single day."

Fourteen-year-old Nicki Mosalisi started developing sores from a bacteria she picked up at a California nail salon. Mosalisi was one of dozens of customers who got a severe skin infection following a pedicure last fall. Health inspectors say the infection came from bacteria in the footspas.

In our area, Delores London had to have minor foot surgery all because of a lousy pedicure.

"I know there are potential problems, but I never thought that it would have affected me, because I never had a problem in the past" London said.

Dr. Teresa Tobin says dirty instruments were probably used on London's feet, and she got an infection. Dr. Tobin says infections happen more than you think when salon instruments are not cleaned properly. She has many patients like London.

"Washing things with soap and water, using them from client to client is completely unacceptable,” Dr. Tobin said. “The instruments should be picked out, rinsed and wiped off in front of you. That would be the best thing."

NBC10 sent two women undercover armed with hidden cameras to one area nail salon. After one woman gets a pedicure, the worker uses metal instruments on her feet. She puts them back in a drawer without cleaning them. Then about half an hour later, she seems to use the same implements on the feet of our second undercover shopper. We never saw her clean the instruments.

"I’m just amazed at the way they handle the instruments,” said Dr. Anthony Benedetto, dermatologist.

NBC10 showed our undercover video to Dr. Benedetto.

“From the previous customer, if that person has an infection, obviously, it will be carried to the next person,” Dr. Benedetto said. “What kind of infection, bacterial infection, fungal infection, athlete’s foot, there can be serious consequences to someone.”

The owner of the salon NBC10 went to denies that she used the same instruments on both of our undercover customers without cleaning the implements. She also says that she would never do a customer's foot if it had an infection.

So how do you protect yourself? At some salons, you bring your own instruments, and you can keep them stored at their salon. That way, they won't be using the same tool on your hands or feet that they used on someone else’s. You should also ask your salon how they clean their instruments. Ask to see the technician's license.

Don’t have your cuticles trimmed aggressively, because it's one stage of the manicure where's there's a chance you could be cut and bleed, and that could lead to serious infections.

(c) 2001 National Broadcasting Company, Inc.

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