Q&A: Manicures and risk of nail infections?

Consumer Reports News: June 18, 2010 06:38 AM

My nail salon uses the same set of tools on many different clients, disinfecting them between jobs. Is that enough to avoid spreading infections, or should I choose a salon that provides a separate set of tools for each client? —Name withheld, Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. 

That depends on how well they’re cleaned. Most salons meticulously eliminate the risk of transmitting infection by properly sterilizing with either steam or a chemical disinfectant. If a salon is licensed and looks clean, and the technicians are fastidious, you probably don’t have to worry. 

If you’re unsure, ask about sterilization methods (an establishment that takes infection control seriously should be eager to tell you about it). If you’re still skeptical, bring your own tools or find a salon that offers each client a separate set. Regardless of the tools used, avoid having your cuticles trimmed since that can promote infection. And contact your physician if your fingers burn, itch, sting, or turn red after a manicure—all signs of possible infection or allergic reaction.

Is your nail salon clean? Do your nails hurt after the manicure? Here are 10 warning signs to watch out for at a nail salon. 

Aaron Bailey

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