Working Healthy

Just My Opinion: Artificial Nails and Nursing DO Mix

I felt the need to respond to Cathy Neben's opinion on acrylics and bacteria (December 2000). If I recall, on many articles written regarding nurses and bacteria, not only nurses with acrylics but also nurses without acrylics harbored viruses under their nails.

I do not believe that acrylic nails harbor bacteria, but that bacteria is trapped under the nail itself— natural or artificial, The issue was not because nurses wore artificial nails, but the fact the nails were long and the nurses did not adequately wash their hands, es­pecially under their nails. I feel with proper washing and sanitation, anyone can wear artifi­cial and natural nails long, I have many clients in the medical field, and not one has experi­enced any problems with her nails. But they are very fussy about washing their hands.

I also must comment on the added notion people with acrylics who wear contact lenses contract corneal ulcers. I personally have been wearing contact lenses for 26 years, 10 of them doing and wearing acrylic nails. I haven't had so much as a sty. Could it be be­cause I diligently wash my hands and make especially sure the undersides of my nails are cleaned with a brush? I cannot count how many clients passed through my doors who have worn contact lenses who never had problems,

I cannot fathom where bacteria can harbor in the acrylic itself, multiplying and contaminating everything touched. I can, however see how bacteria can grow under a nail — acrylic or natural — and spread germs, unless it is cleaned properly.

In my opinion, there has been needless hysteria surrounding acrylic nails and bacteria. I don't think enough research has been done on the subject to draw any conclusions. And to ban artificial nails in hospitals and refuse to put acrylic nails on clients who wear contact lenses is — in my opinion — ridiculous.

Jo Laki is the owner of Jo's Naughty Nails in Hamlin, Pa.

[Editor's note: Although Laki makes a valid point, the rules regarding nail length and appli­cation are hospitals, and we know of several that have instituted "no nails" rulings.]

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