Your article on Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the nurse’s nails (August 2000) struck close to home. My brother and my 13-year-old cousin, Samantha, were both born with cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is a chronic genetic lung disease in which the lungs are clogged with sticky mucus. It is in this wet, warm environment that P.aeruginosa strains flourish and cause repeated pneumonia-like infections.
Since opening my salon more than five years ago, I began to realize P.aeruginosa’s role in the nail industry. We advise our clients who have—or are caregivers to people with—certain conditions and diseases that their nail enhancements have a potential to act as facilitators in the transmission of bacteria that could be harmful to their health. We recommend to these clients not to get enhancements unless their situation changes. People who wear contact lenses should also be concerned about this because of a medical journal article entitled “Pseudomonas corneal ulcers after artificial fingernail injuries. “This was published back in 1989, as were a number of other articles about acrylic nails facilitating infections.
This is not new information and I think that there should be a ban on nail enhancements in the hospital for the sake of the patients and even the nurses’ own health due to a variety of bacterial strains in the hospital setting.
Recently, I was in San Antonio attending the Armstrong McCall show and visiting with my cousin Samantha and we talked about the NAILS article. I asked if she had ever heard the urban legend that you should throw away your mascara every three months because it can become infected with bacteria that could cause eye infections should there be a corneal abrasion. Well this legend, substantiated by medical journal reports, is true—and the offending bacterium is P.aeruginosa. Mascara manufacturers have been very proactive in getting the word out about this potential problem.
Even this intuitive 13-year-old can see the communication gap between the nail industry and the medical community. I would like to quote the Creative educators at the show, Alicia Bryant-Mayes and Donald Anderson, “The nail industry needs to be proactive—and not reactive—in our education and sanitation for ourselves and our clients.”
Cathy McGee Neben is the president and CEO of Hair Spa Inc. in Houston, Her salon was the 1998 Salon of the Year (1-4 Nail Technicians) winner.