It’s summer which means bare feet weather. You’ve decided to pamper yourself and get a pedicure at your favorite salon or spa, but if you’re not careful, that hour of pampering could land you in intensive care, or worse.
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston podiatrist, Dr. David Wolf says that a simple pedicure could kill you; it’s rare, but that it could happen.
He warns with the potential for the onset of a MRSA infection, you could potentially jeopardize the health of your feet and toes.
Kevin Warnke knows this from personal experience. He says he picked up an antibiotic resistant infection from a little nick he got when his pedicurist was clipping his nails. “Less than 24 hours after she cut me, I was in intensive care. Then they told me I had MRSA and Staph,” Warnke stated.
MRSA is a kind of Staph infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Warnke’s case was so severe that he was facing amputation. “I remember the lady talking about it may be getting so bad they may have to take off my toe. I remember them drawing lines on my leg with a magic marker and writing down times, and saying if it goes above this mark at such-and-such a time, we may have to start thinking [about amputation]“, he added.
According to Dr. Wolf, the kind of reaction Warnke experienced with his pedicure is not uncommon. He sees two to three patients a week for pedicure related infections, and he says the most dangerous piece of equipment in a salon is the foot spa.
“[Foot Spas]are really like a breeding ground for infections, because you really have to ask the salon how often these foot spas are cleaned and disinfected. In other words, [one should ask] how often are they cleaned, and you really need to pay attention to the amount of time the nail tech spends cleaning them, because it takes about ten minutes for the disinfectant to work,” Dr, Wolf added.
Dr. Wolf also added that it is possible to pick up a viral infection, like warts for example, in a foot spa. Pedicure customers can also obtain bacterial infections, like MRSA, and a fungal infection of the skin and nails. Warnke got MRSA and immediately knew it: ”It was disgusting. My toe blew up and turned bright red, filled with puss. It just looked gross,” he said.
Dr. Wolf says once you get MRSA, your prognosis includes some dire possibilities, including amputation. He says, if you’re diabetic, MRSA could easily kill you. He warns diabetics should avoid pedicures altogether.
Warnke says even if you’re young and healthy just as he is, and you recover from your life-threatening infection, you may never be better: “Once you get MRSA, the doctor says it’s like trying to get all the soap out of a sponge. You never can. You have that infection the rest of your life. I’ve caught it three more times since, and every time I’ve been mad at the nail salon.” Warnke is suing his nail salon, and and thinks the state should do more to regulate them.
Randy Nesbitt at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation says they have people out there inspecting as many salons as they can, as often as they can:”There’s ten inspectors in the East Region, which includes Houston. Of course, the highest population is in Houston, so nail salons will get a lot of focus there. Inspectors are doing everything east,” Nesbitt stated.
With such a short staff, every salon and spa in the East Region only gets inspected every two years. If an inspector finds a violation, the salons are then inspected more often. It means that you as a nail salon customer have to take tremendous measures to protect yourself and the health of your hands and feet. Coming up in part II, what exactly should you do to protect yourself? If you feel a nail salon is unsafe or you have questions about a nail salon you visited, you can make a complaint or check the license of the nail tech. In “The Hidden Dangers Of Nail Salons”, we will investigate protective measures you can take when you visit a nail salon to ensure your hands, feet and toes remain healthy and free from infection.