ABC 6 Investigation: Nail Salons
Updated: Saturday, February 16 2013, 09:52 AM EST
COLUMBUS -- You go there to get pampered and not to get sick, but that's exactly what can happen if the place that does your nails doesn't follow the rules.
Karen Wallace inspects nail salons. She's with the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology.
"What I'm looking for here are contaminates on instruments used on the clients," she said.
Wallace says nail salons that don't follow the rules are a danger to the public because they're breeding grounds for fungus, bacteria and aeven serious staph infections called MRSA.
"The instruments can pick up bacteria. They can pick up the fungus and transfer it to the next client," said Dr. Mary Jo Kerns, Columbus Dermatologist.
Dangerous bacteria and fungus can also live in foot tubs that are not properly disinfected. According to Dr. Kerns, some of this stuff can be very tough to treat.
"Topicals usually don't work for fungal infections," Dr. Jo Kerns said.
"You can't just give the patient one pill which is a problem. Some people are allergic to certain classes of antibiotics. So you're limited to what you can use," she added.
The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology's resources are also limited. Wallace is just one of two inspectors in central Ohio. There are more than 1,200 nail salons in Franklin County alone to inspect. That means, they're inspected just once a year.
There are things you can do as a consumer to protect yourself from these funky nail nightmares. First, make sure nail techs are using clean instruments. Secondly, be sure they're wearing gloves or washing their hands in between customers. Finally, give the foot tubs a good look over. Dr. Jo Kerns says you can also do things at home.
"Really, really keep your hands and feet moisturized. It's those microscopic cuts from having dry skin that you can get a wart virus. You can get bacterial and fungal infections," she said.
Reporter: Tom Sussi