Manicures, pedicures, and acrylic nail applications and fill-ins are a part of many of our monthly routines. We expect that nail technicians will be well trained and salons will follow the appropriate protocols, so we rarely give these appointments a second thought. What many people fail to realize is that nail salons are a perfect environment for the transmission of serious infectious diseases.
When we go to hospitals or doctors’ offices, we expect our medical professionals to know that working around cracked skin or with instruments that could breach the skin creates a risk of disease transmission. We assume they will take this concern very seriously, and always use gloves, masks, sterilization, and single-use instruments. But many people do not give the same level of thought to nail salons. We are not checking to see whether the workstations are clean, or the nail technicians washed their hands after handling the money given to them by the previous customer. The reality is that improper sanitization at a nail salon can lead to serious and potentially deadly skin infections including streptococcus pyogenes, staphylococcus aureus, and MRSA. Treatment of these infections in fingers and toes can require lancing, surgical excision, amputation, and extended hospital stays.
Nail Salon and Nail Technician Regulations
In Virginia, nail salons and nail technicians are regulated by the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Nail salons and technicians must obtain a license from DPOR to provide nail care services. In order to obtain a license, the nail services provider must sign a certification that they have read and understood the Virginia barber and cosmetology laws and regulations (See 18 VAC 41-20-20A.3). The applicant must also pass a board-certified examination, which for nail technicians is administered by an independent examiner called PSI Services, LLC (See 18 VAC 41-20-20A.5). Typically, an applicant for a nail technician license must attend a cosmetology school to pass the examination. The curriculum for such schools must include training on personal hygiene, bacteriology, sterilization, sanitation, diseases and disorders of the nail, chemistry, anatomy, and physiology and safety (See 18 VAC 41-20-210D and E).
In practice, salons are required to “be clean and sanitary at all times” and must “take sufficient measures to prevent the transmission of communicable and infectious diseases and comply with. . . sanitization standards. . . and shall ensure that all employees likewise comply” (See 18 VAC 41-20-270A). The regulations include very specific instructions regarding the disinfection and sanitization of implements, including a requirement that objects disinfected in liquids must be completely immersed in a solution that is a hospital-grade tuberculocidal disinfectant registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (See 18 VAC 41-20-270B.1). The regulations require that metal tools intended for use on more than one client, such as clippers, scissors, and nippers, must be disinfected by removing foreign matter, washed thoroughly with hot water and soap, rinsed with clean water, dried with a clean paper towel, fully immersed in a disinfectant solution for a minimum of 10 minutes, and stored in EPA-registered disinfectant storage solution or in a pre-disinfected dry cabinet, drawer, or non-airtight covered container (See 18 VAC 41-20-270B.2 ). Single use items, such as sponges, files, buffers, and replaceable electric file covers, must be discarded immediately and may never be used on multiple clients (See 18 VAC 41-20-270B.3). Basins and tubs must likewise be cleaned with EPA-registered hospital-grade and tuberculocidal disinfectant immediately after use with each client (See 18 VAC 41-20-270B.8).
Nail Salons in Reality
Unfortunately, many salons and nail technicians are under pressure to service as many clients as possible in order to make a profit. Often, sanitization procedures are done improperly or skipped entirely to quickly move to the next customer. Given that nail technicians are required to read and understand the regulations and they were required to study about sanitization and infectious diseases in nail technician school, any failure to follow the required sanitization procedures should be considered a willful and reckless disregard for the safety of their customers. A nail salon that chooses to forego simple sanitization procedures that prevent the transmission of severe and potentially deadly infections places its entire client base at risk.
Next time you go to your salon:
- Make sure that your nail technician is licensed and familiar with the sanitization regulations.
- Confirm that the tools used have been correctly sanitized or are brand-new single-use tools retrieved directly from an airtight package.
- Request that your technician wear gloves and request that foot basins be lined with a sanitary plastic liner.
When to Call a Lawyer
You may have a claim for compensation if you have developed a severe infection requiring hospitalization in the days following a visit to your nail salon. If so, it is important to consult with a qualified nail salon negligence attorney immediately so that an investigation into the salon’s sanitization practices can start right away. The attorneys at Allen & Allen are experienced in these types of cases. If you have been injured through no fault of your own, call us at (866) 388-1307. We are here to help.