by Joyce Kohl
A favorite cliche, “everything we derive any pleasure from these days is either illegal, immoral, or fattening,” needs an addition of “deadly.” Yes, DEADLY! The latest in a long list of unsafe practices is manicures. The last time I had my nails professionally manicured was a startling experience and the more I thought about it, the more I realized the dangers lurking on the manicurist’s table.
My Last Professional Manicure
Treating myself to the skills of a professional manicurist served to also get me out of the house, away from a ringing telephone, and gave me time to think. It simply never occurred to me that I might be in danger of getting a bacterial infection or hepatitis. And it didn’t enter my mind that the greatest death sentence in the world today could be contracted while mindlessly letting someone trim my fingernails. Then it happened! The manicurist clipped the edge of my finger instead of the nail. It was so fast I didn’t feel it and didn’t know about it until she grabbed an antiseptic and began dabbing at my bleeding finger. Her only comment was “Oops. I nicked your finger.”
Paying Attention Could Save Your Life
Needless to say, I did NOT pay attention nor had I EVER thought about the instruments used by the manicurist. Each of the instruments were standing up in a small bottle containing about an inch of alcohol. The emery boards were laid out on the table side by side – obviously used many times before I sat down in front of the manicurist’s colorful table with its array of multi-colored bottles of polish. My only thought at the time was deciding which of the delicious colors I would select.
Facts You Should Know
Alcohol does NOT sterilize the instruments used by manicurists. Unless they use the same methods as those used in hospitals and the offices of doctors for surgical instruments, the organisms that cause hepatitis, AIDS and bacterial or fungal infections are transmitted from customer to customer. You also need to know if you’re allergic to any of the nail polishes and acrylic glues used. Formaldehyde resins, used frequently in nail polish, may cause problems. The use of acrylic nails can result in your real nails separating from the nail bed. If you allow too much buffing of your nails, this can cause them to break and crumble. Last, beware of polish removers containing acetone or acetate which leads to making your nails brittle or cause them to break, split and peel.
Before you make an appointment to get a manicure, talk to the salon’s manager. Get the answers to these questions:
What is the process you use for sterilizing your manicuring instruments?
Do you use new emery boards for each client?
Do you have nail polish available that does not contain formaldehyde resins?
Do you use non-acetone polish remover available?
Do you have an antibiotic cream available in case the skin around my nail is cut or broken
during the manicure?
Your next manicure can be a worry-free experience if you remember to take the responsibility for ordinary common sense precautions BEFORE you make an appointment. Ignorance will not be bliss if you ignore what can occur if the seal is broken on your fingertip or cuticle – it could be the reason for an annoying and/or unsightly fungus affection, or even a blood-to-blood transmission of the lethal AIDS virus because alcohol, peroxide, hot water, or other half-way sterilization methods do NOT kill most bacteria or viruses. Manicures most certainly CAN be deadly!
by Joyce Kohl
January 26, 1998