The Risk of Disease Through Manicures

Health Writer

Who doesn't love getting a manicure? Sitting back and letting someone else care for you is always a special treat. Manicures can be relaxing. But there are dangers too, especially if the salon is not particular about hygiene.

A report compiled in 2011 by the American College of Gastroenterology discussed the risk of developing hepatitis through nail salons. The report was spurred by a case of hepatitis C which was clearly a result of a visit to a nail salon. While the report states that the disinfection procedures that are in place in many salons are sufficient to prevent the spread of diseases such as hepatitis, some salons do not follow these procedures and leave their customers at risk. Millions of people in the United States are thought to have hepatitis, with most not knowing they have the illness.

A more recent report, published in AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses (available free at until December 10, 2014) showed the possibility of contracting the HIV virus via manicure instruments. This report was based on a single case of a woman, with no risk factors, contracting the HIV infection. It was traced back to sharing manicure instruments, 10 years earlier, with a cousin who later was  diagnosed with HIV.

Other, less-serious infections are also possible. Yeast infections, allergic reactions to products or glue and infection from small cuts may happen. Warts, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus can be spread when utensils are not cleaned properly. Staph infections, while not common, can be spread and cause infections on your hands or under your fingernails. Of course, because you are in close contact with a number of people at a nail salon, you increase your risk of picking up viruses.

Protecting Your Health

Many people assume that because a salon is in business and looks clean, that proper procedures for disinfecting tools are always used. This isn't necessarily true, however, and it is up to you to make sure you stay safe and healthy. Don't be afraid to ask about disinfection. Make sure your salon thoroughly disinfects tools in between each customer, no matter how busy they are. Ask someone to demonstrate their procedures for you.

Some people prefer to bring their own tools, believing this is safer. However, some experts caution that if you do not thoroughly disinfect your tools after each manicure you could open yourself up to infection. If you do choose to bring your own tools, make sure to use the same procedures you expect the salon to use once you get home. Soak tools in alcohol and remove any residue where bacteria can build up.

Don't be afraid to speak up or walk out and find a different salon. Your health matters.

For more information:

7 Things to Do Before Going to the Nail Salon

10 Warning Signs That You Need a New Nail Salon