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Saint Martin’s University Biology Journal

nail health.

In nail salons the warnings about manicures exist, but some women tend to ignore them. It is important to consider these warnings in order to maintain healthy nails. Cuticle cutters that haven’t been sanitized properly can cause serious complications, ranging from an inflamed cuticle to hepatitis (Kurtzweil, 1995). Also the chances of developing parenchyma (abnormal growth in the supporting framework or tissue of an organ) are increased (Kurtzweil, 1995). Dirty instruments also contribute to infection by blood borne diseases such as HIV or hepatitis (Kurtzweil, 1995). Getting a manicure or pedicure can break the skin, therefore creating openings that allow contagious germs to enter and infect the body (Kurtzweil, 1995). Unclean equipment is also dangerous if the skin around the nail is broken. Infectious agents can move into the area around the nail if too much cuticle is cut, pushed back too far, or separated from the fingernail (Kurtzweil, 1995). Infections from bacteria (i.e. Staphylococcus; fungi such as Candida (also known as yeast); and skin viruses such as warts) are common problems associated with nails. Bacterial and fungal infections can result from artificial nails, regardless if they are applied at the salon or by one’s self at home. Any hard collision to artificial nails; i.e., a bump or knock, can lift the natural nail at the base, and present an opportunity for dirt and bacteria to enter. Bacteria and fungi can also grow in between the nails, and extend to the natural nail if the nail being re-glued isn’t properly cleaned (Kurtzweil, 1995).

Two current reports cite potential hazards to patients that might result from acrylic nails worn by health care workers. In one study (Parry et al., 2001) researchers identified a cluster of three post- laminectomy (chronic lower back and or leg pain) patients who were found to have osteomyelitis (bone (infection of the bone


May 2006, Volume 1

and the bone marrow) and diskitis (an inflammation, irritation, and swelling of the invertebral disk space between the bones) due to identical isolates of Candida albicans. The infections were traced to an operating room technician who wore acrylic nails, and the implicated yeast was isolated from her throat. Acrylic nails here also been known to promote subungual (beneath a fingernail or toenail) growth of gram-negative bacilli and yeast (Parry et al., 2001).

In the second experiment there were 41 health care workers used to compare the reduction of microbial colonization, by either antimicrobial soap or alcohol based gel. McNeil et al. (2001). Twenty-one of the

health care workers had native nails.

had acrylic nails, and 20 More pathogens were

isolated from workers with native nails.

a majority of the health care artificial nails than those with According to McNeil et al.

(2001) gram-negative



bacilli were the



most the

majority of the health care workers. care workers with acrylic nails are

Health at high

risk of being infected by bacilli, Staphylcoccus aureus,

gram-negative or yeasts.

In 2000, an outbreak of Mycobacterium fortuitum (M. fortuitum) furunculosis, a disease associated with rapidly growing bacteria occurred in salons. Vugia et al. (2005) studied infected customers who had used whirlpool footbaths at a nail salon. Researchers swabbed approximately 30 footbaths in 18 nail salons from 5 California counties. Researchers found Mycobacteria in 29 (97%) of the whirlpool foot baths. Of those footbaths tested, M. fortuitum was the most common bacteria. Researchers also found that customers using whirlpool footbaths at a nail salon were more likely to contract M.fortuitum furunculosis. Mycobacteria may pose an infectious risk for pedicure customers (Vugia et al., 2005).

Another outbreak of M. fortuitum

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