Beauty’s ugly side

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ISSUE Keeping beauty salons clean will go a long way in keeping clients healthy

Safety firstEnsure clean tools are used at the salon
Safety firstEnsure clean tools are used at the salon

With every trip to your beauty parlour, there’s good chance you leave with more than just new hairdo or clean feet and hands. You may have picked up an infection.

All of us like to be pampered now and again. But that should not come at a price. Countless men and women end up with skin and hair related problems after visiting a salon. Health issues such as respiratory conditions, headache, stinging eyes and throat from breathing in the fumes of polish, hair chemical and disinfectants can also be cause of concern.

No matter how posh and swanky the ambience of a salon, if it does not keep up with the health and safety standards, it can easily become a breeding ground for several viral infections including HIV and Hepatitis B.

Combs, brushes, make-up sponges and other tools are used on more than one customer.

Germs aplenty

“I don’t need an expert to tell me how dangerous these can be in spreading diseases,” says Dr. Veena Sinha, a college professor who still cannot forget the trauma she went through from herpes, a painful viral infection, few years ago. She continues, “I prefer not to go to salon if I can help it. They are a breeding ground of germs.”

Dr. Nanma Nikalji Nambiar, a consultant dermatologist, based in Mumbai, advises clients to be careful when opting for some of the following beauty procedures:

Waxing: Infection often spreads by hand. The beautician must wear gloves during waxing. A good salon will ensure that the wax pots or heating units are kept clean; if you see sticks in the pot, it is a sign that they are not disposed off regularly.

Ensure the beautician tests the temperature of the wax before applying; if it is too hot, burns can result or if you can get an allergic reaction to certain ingredients. Any kind of skin irritation must be immediately treated with topical antibiotics.

Manicure/pedicure: Examine the manicure station, pedicure spa, shelves, containers , tools and room before treatment. Many of the tools are non-disposable and if not sanitised properly, can spread germs. The risk is especially high for instruments that come into direct contact with body fluids.

“There should be a jar of sanitizer to store the manicure- pedicure tools at the manicure station,” says Dr. Satish Udare, a dermatologist. Infections can range from hair fungal to ringworms or pimples. A blackhead remover if not sanitised properly can spread bacterial infection on the face.

“In most beauty salons, the standard of hygiene is not very high. One of the reasons could be that the latest hygiene technology is still expensive and some of the equipment has to be imported. So they skip the expenses and put the client at risk.

“Another major cause for concern is getting a piercing done at a salon”, says Divya Seth a homemaker whose five year old daughter got an infection after getting her ears pierced in a friendly neighbourhood salon.

According to Dr. Nanma Nikalji, if you are going in for a facial treatment, poor recognition of skin type can cause pimples or rashes. Dirty salons are happy homes for the staphylococcus bacteria that causes pimples or boils. Acne can, sometimes, take months to settle. Contaminated creams when massaged into the skin could result in bacterial infections.

The doctor suggests that preferably there should be no direct contact of beautician’s hands with the face. If disposable gloves are not available, politely insists that hands are washed properly. Some of the instruments used need to get sterilised. Anti-bacterial cleansers and hand lotions are easily available and are quite effective as they contain substances like ethyl alcohol and triclosam which eliminate bacteria and most germs.

Dermatologists warn about visiting cheap salons. The big trouble area in unhygienic salons are liquid make-up, mascara, lipstick, blushes and make-up sponges. When going in for hair treatments remember scalp infections or dandruff can be caused by dirty combs and brushes.

For men, disposable razor blades should be used to trim their hair so as to avoid Hepatitis B and HIV. Ideally, try to shave at home.

All of us want to look good and feel beautiful. So, with a little bit of effort on part of the beautician and the customer, you can look beautiful and remain healthy. After all, the desire for that well groomed look should not lead you doctor’s clinic.





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