Richmond, VA--Many people consider professional manicures and pedicures essential parts of a day of pampering. But there are hidden dangers at some nail salons, which pose risks to your health; 8News found that some local salons are not following state regulations.
"It was like raw, like a carpet burn." A woman spoke out to us, after someone she knew contracted a serious infection in her foot following a pedicure at a Colonial Heights nail salon.
"The pedicure was done on Saturday and by Sunday her foot was infected from using a pumice stone. She could not put her shoe on."
It took two months of antibiotics and a month for the infection to clear up. It left a permanent scar on the woman's foot.
Unfortunately, these types of situations aren't uncommon. If a nail salon is not following strict sanitary regulations, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria and serious infections.
8News discovered that here in Virginia, nail salons are not routinely inspected by the state. This means that customers should do their homework before visiting a salon.
Mary Vaughn, Communications Director of the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, oversees nail salons and technicians throughout the state. Vaughn says infections are easy to contract, if proper procedures are not followed.
"You can actually get some nasty bacterial infections, a mix of warm water and somebody else's skins cells not necessarily a good combination."
She urges customers to do their homework before visiting a nail salon, and to check whether their salon or technician holds a license.
"Both the individual technician and the facility itself need to hold a license issued by the state."
Vaughn admits that the state doe not have the resources to randomly inspect nail salons.
"We do rely on consumers to help us by reporting any concerns that they have."
If a salon doesn't adhere to state standards, manicures and pedicures may end painfully for customers: fungus, infections and even the loss of fingers or toes are all frightening possibilities.
Tina Caton owns The Polished Nail Lounge in Short Pump, which is licensed. She goes above and beyond state regulations to keep her salon clean and customers comfortable.
"We clean it right in front of the customer. We have a sink right in the middle of the store."
She says customers shouldn't be shy about speaking up and voicing any concerns.
"When you go into a salon you want to be able to ask questions."
Of the 600 nail salons in Virginia, the state receives about 30 complaints each year. Vaughn says these complaints are taken seriously.
"When complaints come in we have an investigator look into it."
After investigating, we found two complaints recently filed against salons in our area. In the first complain, one person claimed they landed in the hospital with pneumonia from a bacteria in their pedicure bath at Fashion Nail Salon in Richmond.
Although there is no proof that the pneumonia was caused the salon, when the state's inspector visited, they found unsanitary conditions. The salon was fined.
The second complain was against VU Nails in Chesterfield. A woman says during a pedicure, her heel was cut. She had to be treated by her doctor. State inspectors found that the person who performed the pedicure had been working without a license at the salon for two years.
When we asked the owner of VU Nails why the technician had been working without a license, we were told "We were training her and letting her learn how to do it."
That practice is illegal in Virginia; technicians cannot train on customers.
Since that incident, the salon owner says the establishment is now complying with the law.
"Yes, we have license to work, if we don't have a license we can't work." The owner also says all employees are licensed.
To find out if your favorite nail salon is licensed in the state of Virginia, please visit here.
Mary Vaughn says customers should take a quick peek around a salon before their manicure or pedicure begins. Does it look like there has been scum in it? Does it like it has been wiped down as its required to do?"
You should also look at the emery board or buffer that the technician will use on your hands or feet. If it has a scuff mark on it, that mean it has already been used. It is illegal to use them on more than one client here in Virginia.
Tina Caton says each customer gets their own tray of tools before each manicure or pedicure, and customers can take emery boards home.
"After each client we watch the tool with soap and water then we emerge them in a barbicide, it's hospital grade."
While the price may be a little higher, Caton says your health is worth it.
"You get what you pay for."
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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