Salon sanitation and disinfection continue to make news, and not just in California. The Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR) has adopted new cosmetology rules that it says will better protect the health of consumers who use their services. And in South Carolina, the Board of Cosmetology issued an alert to licensees, reminding them of the proper disinfecting procedures for footbaths after two salon patrons received skin infections from whirlpool pedicure spas in two different salons.

In both cases, the board ordered the salons to immediately cease and desist using the footbaths where the Mycobacterium skin infections were discovered.

In Texas, as of March 1, implements must be cleaned, disinfected, and sterilized by an autoclave, UV light, or dry heat between clients. Previous rules required that implements only be cleaned and disinfected.

“They could break the skin and come in contact with blood and other pathogens from other clients,” says William Kuntz, TDLR’s executive director.

Single-use items such as orangewood sticks, cotton balls, nail wipes, and disposable towels must be discarded after one use.

Also under the new rules, certain implements and substances, such as razor blades to remove calluses or MMA-based adhesives to attach acrylic nails, have been banned. The new rules make it a violation for cosmetologists to possess as well as utilize implements and substances that are prohibited for use on clients.

In addition, while salons will only need to be inspected every two years, a new emphasis will be placed on establishments in which sanitation issues are discovered- If sanitation problems are found during an inspection, a salon will be subject to a much more rigorous inspection schedule, up to four times a year.

“Our primary consideration is the health and welfare of the consumers,” says Gina Parker, chairman of the commission of the TDLR. “During the last legislative session, when these programs were transferred to our agency, lawmakers expressed great concern about sanitation issues at these establishments that could result in the transmission of disease, particularly with foot spas. These rules address those concerns.”

According to the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services, in the past two years, it has received 20 reports of skin infections that can be traced to nail salons. Dr. John Carlo, the health department’s chief epidemiologist, said his department has been working with the state to look into the complaints.

Not everyone in the nail industry agrees that the new rules in Texas regarding sterilization will, in fact, increase public safety. In a letter urging state legislators and the TDLR to reconsider these regulations, the Nail Manufacturers Council (NMC) wrote, “The recent regulation changes appear to be based on the incorrect assumption that sanitation or disinfection is not effective, unless followed by complete sterilization. This assumption has no scientific validity and there is no evidence to show that items used in the beauty salon should require such difficult, extreme, burdensome, and costly methods.”

The NMC also notes that the new regulations do not provide for either additional inspectors to ensure enforcement of the regulations or advanced training to ensure compliance. What is really needed is increased enforcement of existing sanitation and disinfection guidelines, says the NMC.

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