How to protect yourself at the nail salon

Tips from experts and state inspectors

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. - We buff and trim, aiming for the perfectly painted look. But sometimes a trip to the nail salon can end in disaster.

""What do you mean I'm going to lose a finger?" Mona Greenberg asked her doctor. "I went in for a manicure; I have an infection fix it!"

Doctors had to amputate Greenberg's finger after she picked up an infection during a routine manicure.

"People lose their fingers, they lose their toenails, it's serious," Rachel Davis told us. Davis owns ‘Nails by Rachel' in Lake Worth.

For 15 years she has seen customers with bad outcomes from salons that cut corners. "They have infections on their nails, green mold," she said. "It's not right.  It doesn't make sense. "

Davis says being an educated consumer is your best defense against nasty nail infections.

The Contact 5 Investigators met up with Cheryl Biesky, a nail inspector for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. "When you walk into an establishment, look at floors, walls, ceilings and determine whether this is a place where I want to have a service provided," Biesky said.

She and her team of inspectors also check two documents when they walk in a salon. First, look for a copy of the salon's license. It should be posted near the front entrance. Second, look for a copy of the salon's most recent inspection.

"If you don't see those two items, that's a concern," Biesky said. "A consumer has a right to ask for a copy of an inspection report and should be able to view a copy of the most recent inspection report, so they know the place has been inspected. "

The Contact 5 Investigators spent several months studying the nail salon inspection reports for dozens of salons. Biesky and her team had written citations for problems like "not cleaning pedicure tub correctly" and "dirty buffers and nail" files in drawers.

Biesky also suggest asking the technician how they disinfect the tools. "If you have any concerns whatsoever, you should be asking how do you clean the tools? How do you disinfect the tools?" she said.

She says metal tools should be soaked in a hospital grade disinfectant. And that nail files and buffers should be thrown away if they cannot be disinfected between uses.

"Unless they're the type that can be disinfected between use and there are types which you can purchase that can be disinfected between customers," Biesky said.

She also suggests asking to see the salon's pedicure log, before you sit down.

Click here to view the complete investigation.

"If the pedicure spa has not been cleaned properly and disinfected properly, there is a chance that bacteria, funguses, viruses, will be circulating in that pedicure spa," Biesky said. "There is a pedicure log book and the consumer can ask to see the pedicure log. It would detail for them that it's cleaned after every customer. "

Undercover the Contact 5 Investigators also spotted what Biesky calls bipo or credo blades being used to cut dead and hardened skin from the clients' heels.

Click here to verify licensing information for a nail salon in Florida, including any complaints and citations.

Biesky says she would never use one. "When you take something to the skin and start removing, now they're open and susceptible to any germs or bacteria," she said.

Investigative producer Lynn Walsh contributed to this story.

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