24 Apr 2019

Infection fears could see crackdown on nail salons

4:24 pm on 24 April 2019

The Wellington City Council is considering a crackdown on nail salons because of revelations of a widespread lack of basic infection controls.

A woman paints a customer's nails during a pedicure in a beauty salon.

File photo. Photo: 123RF

The survey by Regional Public Health, which included 27 salons in the Wellington region, found 88 percent were not properly disinfecting and sterilising their equipment.

One city councillor, Fleur Fitzsimons, who holds the city safety portfolio, says the local authority is inviting the public and nail businesses to have their say on whether salons should be regulated.

The Survey of Knowledge and Infection Control Practices in Salons Offering Nail Services by Regional Public Health assessed 57 nail and beauty salons between January and July of 2017.

The report found some salons were using heel blades to remove calluses and rough skin, which many health professionals consider to be dangerous.

Last month, senior podiatrist Katie Vodanovich told Morning Report she was shocked by the survey results.

"But, can't say I'm surprised.

"The public doesn't have an awareness and they are at risk," she said.

She said people with diabetes or those on cancer treatment were at a higher risk because their immunity was lower.

"There's a risk of blood-borne viruses - Hep C, Hep B - not to mention the bacterial and fungal infections you can get from cross contamination and not cleaning your instruments and not having a hygienic service."

There were many cheap nail bars popping up all over but people didn't understand the risk of going there, she said.

Salons that charged $40 or less for a manicure were about three times more likely to have an inadequate number of trained staff than those charging more, the survey found.

Overall, more than half of the salons surveyed had staff that weren't adequately trained.

Salons that were cheaper, had fewer trained staff suggesting a higher risk of infection due to less awareness of preventable infections.

Furthermore, only 16 percent of salons said all their staff were fully vaccinated. None of them paid for staff vaccinations.

In turn, putting clients at risk of the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection from inadequately sterilised equipment after exposure to blood from a previous client or staff member who might be a carrier of HBV.

Association of Registered Beauty Professionals president Kim Ryan said she would like to see all beauty therapists registered like nurses.

National standards needed to set by central government, Ms Ryan said.

New regulations for the beauty industry are being considered as part of the current review of the council's public health bylaw.

Submissions close on 24 May.

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