WHAT GERMAPHOBIA IS: The clinical name for germaphobia is “mysophobia,” which literally means a pathological fear of contamination and germs. As a nail tech, it’s unlikely you will perform services on individuals with a true clinical case of mysophobia — which is actually a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder — as these people usually go out of their way to avoid the very thing that causes them stress and anxiety. Most of your clients probably have at least mild concerns about sanitation; however, some may indeed be mildly germaphobic.

WHAT TO DO: If your client clearly displays anxiety about sanitation, the best approach is to address her concerns head on, according to Leslie Roste, R.N., director of education for BlueCo Brands. “Offer to show your client all of the steps you take to ensure that disinfection is done properly and effectively,” says Roste. “Even going to the extent of mixing new disinfectant may put this client at ease. It may be difficult for this client to trust in what has been done, so don’t take it personally; just take the time to ease her fears, and she likely will become a long-time client.”

WHAT TO SAY: Most germaphobes will likely have read plenty of nail salon horror stories and will have done some research about disinfection before they even step into your salon. It’s important, Roste says, that you remember all of the correct steps and can verbalize them for this client. “Explain that you only disinfect non-porous items (glass, metal, or plastic), and all other items are considered single-use and are thrown away after each client,” suggests Roste. “Those items to be disinfected are washed first to remove visible residue and leave the surface clear for the disinfectant to be effective. They are then placed in the disinfectant (which you have mixed according to the label directions) for the proper amount of time to be effective against the pathogens on the label — you may even want to share the label with this particular client.” Remember that no one wants to get sick or injured at the nail salon, and that for every person who admits to her concerns, there are likely 100 who are concerned but don’t say anything!

The Germaphobe’s Rx

Here are some tips from Roste on performing nail services on germaphobic clients:

> When possible, use individually wrapped single-use items; things like files and buffers are considered much safer when they come out of individual wrapping.

> Keep in mind that anything left on your work area — drill bits in a bowl, the towel from the client before — will all be suspect, so they need to be disinfected and put away or removed and replaced.

> If it is the pedicure bowl up for discussion, regardless of the hassle, you should offer to remove all filters and screens and show your client how well it has been cleaned and disinfected. Even if your state rules do not require you to circulate disinfectant throughout the system between clients, in this case, it may prove to be invaluable in gaining her trust.

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