Improper pedicure cleaning procedures could pose health risks

Girl cuts a man ingrown toenail. (Credit: Thinkstock)

Summer is in full effect and with it comes a high demand for pedicures. But some nail salons may not be following proper protocol, putting customers at risk.

A woman in North Carolina almost lost her leg after getting a pedicure at her local salon.

Graciela Roman is the coordinator-instructor for the nail technology program at El Paso Community College.

She said the incident with the woman in North Carolina is what she tries to prevent from happening here in El Paso.

Roman said it all begins with proper sanitation of tools being used.

“The problem is they started cutting her skin. So what it does is they go too deep and if it wasn't disinfected or sterilized, it harvests bacteria and goes into her bloodstream,” Roman said.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation said the following tools must be cleaned after every use:

Metal pusher and files

Cuticle nipper and scissors

Metal tweezers

Finger- and toenail clippers

Electric drill bits

These are the materials that should be manually cleaned and sprayed with disinfectant and fungicidal products:

Buffer blocks

Porous nail files

Pedicure files

Callus rasps

Natural pumice and foot brush


Sanding bands


Heel and toe pumice

Exfoliating block (washable materials)

If a buffer block or porous nail file is used on someone with exposed or broken skin or on unhealthy nails, it must be thrown away immediately after use.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the following should only be used once and then discarded:

Orangewood sticks

Cotton balls

Nail wipes

Disposable towels

Roman recommends that you don’t shave 48 hours prior to having a pedicure or if you have cuts or open wounds, because this makes you susceptible to bacteria.

Roman also said salon workers must wash the tub with soap and water, soak it for 10 minutes and use a disinfecting spray.

“If the customer leaves and they just wipe it and put spray with any kind of detergent in there and they are like 'we are ready for you' but they didn't soak it for 10 minutes, that’s the No. 1 thing,” said Roman.

Teachers and students said waiting those extra minutes at the salon may not always be a bad thing.

“We don't know what people come in with. We don't know if they have any blood diseases or anything and we just want them to know we are trying to protect them,” said Bernice Olivarez, who is a student at EPCC.

According to the TDLR website, salons are inspected at least once every two years. Beauty schools are inspected at least twice per year.

If you see anything at a salon that is not in line with the state law, call the TDLR at 512-436-6599.

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