5/06/02 - Avoiding A Nail Nightmare

A trip to the nail salon turned into a nail nightmare for a Kansas City woman.

Rebecca Burgess claims she got an infection from an electronic grinder they used at the Fancy Nail Salon. The infection destroyed some of the bone, and she ended up having to have her fingertip amputated. Burgess sued, and just won a $140,000 settlement. But what's being done to keep you from being the next victim of a nail nightmare?

What we've found is that case is not isolated. Even though that particular case happened a few hundred miles away from the Heartland, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be on the lookout when you take a trip to the salon.

A nail technician for 19 years, Lupe Abernathy has filed more than her share of fingertips. Jamie Hefner came to Elan Day Spa to get her nails removed. Abernathy is using a fairly new technique to take them off, and says everything she's using is sanitized. "Anything from cuticle nippers to acrylic nippers to pumice stones," Abernathy says. But the tools of the trade aren't the only thing you should look for when it comes to avoiding a nail nightmare. Abernathy says, "You should look to see if they're having you wait until there's an open spot, if they're speeding you in and out, if different people are doing your nails."

Where you decide to get your nails done should be no different in any other decision you make concerning your health. "Just like a doctor when he goes to examine a patient, you want to be sure he has sanitized his hands and the place he's working at is sanitary," Abernathy says. A simple checklist could save you from a lot of pain. When you go into a nail salon check for licenses, they should be hung up on a wall. Make sure they sanitize all their nail tools, and wash your hands before you get your nails done. You should also ask your nail technician to wash his or her hands as well.

Don't forget about your feet. Losing a toe, or getting a fungus on your feet can be a big ordeal too, so those same rules apply when you get a pedicure.