nail salon fungal injuriesIt’s can be unsightly. It can be painful. It can cause a serious infection and permanent damage. It can become a serious health risk. It can persist indefinitely and be difficult to treat. It can recur. It effects more men than women, but it can still be a serious health problem for a woman. And, one of the ways you can get it might shock you.

It’s called: Onychomycosis (on-i-ko-mi-KO-sis). But most people know it by its street name: NAIL FUNGUS – an infection of one or more of the nails that if left untreated can spread beyond the feet, especially in people with a weak immune system, diabetes or other medical conditions.

There are many ways in which a person can contract a fungal infection. But the least expected culprit, according to health experts, are the clipping, buffing and cutting tools used by your friendly, neighborhood manicurist in your friendly, neighborhood beauty salon or nail parlor. Contact with unclean equipment is how most patrons of nail salons get painful fungal infections on their fingers and toes – infections that sometimes require antibiotics and even surgery to correct.

“Nail salon patrons should keep an eye open for scissors, or other instruments, that are left laying out on the manicurist’s table,” Mitchel Ashley, a top New York beauty salon and nail parlor injury lawyer warns. “Salon patrons should insist that nail technicians use sterilized scissors and clippers. Patrons should see the technician remove the tools from a sterilized bag, or sterilizing machine, just prior to use. “It’s a NY State health code requirement,” he said.

Some Background
According to the renowned Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., not all nail fungi are alike. But most nail fungus infections begin by displaying a white or yellow spot under the tip of the fingernail or toenail. As a rule of thumb, though (no pun intended), a nail fungal infection is probably likely if one or more of your nails are:

  • Thickened
  • Distorted in shape
  • Brittle, crumbly or ragged
  • Darker in color than other nails (caused by debris build-up under the nail)
  • Dull, with no luster or shine

Infected nails also may separate from the nail bed, causing pain in the toes or fingertips; and you may detect a slightly foul odor. This condition is called Onycholysis.

Apart from contact with unclean scissors and clippers in a nail salon or beauty parlor, other factors that can increase the risk of developing a nail fungal infection are: (Source: Mayo Clinic)

  • Heavy perspiration
  • Working in a humid, moist environment
  • Having Psoriasis, a skin condition
  • Wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation and don’t absorb perspiration
  • Walking barefoot in damp public places such as around swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms
  • Having athlete’s foot
  • Having a minor skin or nail injury, a damaged nail, or another infection
  • Having diabetes, circulation problems or a weakened immune system.

Nail fungal infections can be tough to treat and repeat infections are common. You can try using over-the-counter antifungal nail creams and ointments. But for tough cases these treatments aren’t very effective. When OTC treatments don’t help, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or itraconazole (Sporanox).

Oral medications to treat fungal infections are also very likely to be prescribed by your doctor if you have other issues that complicate the problem, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Other risk factors for a skin infection caused by bacteria called, Cellulites
  • A history of Cellulites
  • Or, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your nails caused by an infection.

These oral medications, typically taken for six to twelve weeks, help a new nail grow free of infection. But, according to the Mayo Clinic, you won’t see the end result of treatment until the nail grows back completely, which may take four months or longer to eliminate an infection. And, be advised: recurrent infections are possible, especially if you continue to expose your nails to warm, moist conditions.

Warning: Antifungal drugs may cause side effects ranging from skin rashes to liver damage. Doctors may not recommend these drugs for people with liver disease or congestive heart failure or for those taking certain medications. Surgery may be necessary if your nail infection is severe or extremely painful. Your doctor may suggest removing your nail. A new nail will usually grow back, though it could take up to a year for the new nail to grow back completely. To help prevent nail fungus and reduce recurrent infections, The Mayo Clinic recommends good hand and foot hygiene. (Source: Mayo Clinic)

  • Keep your nails short, dry and clean. Trim nails straight across and file down thickened areas. Thoroughly dry your hands and feet, including between your toes, after bathing.
  • Wear appropriate socks. Synthetic socks that wick away moisture may keep your feet dryer than do cotton or wool socks (you can also wear synthetic socks underneath other socks). Change them often, especially if your feet sweat excessively. Take your shoes off occasionally during the day and after exercise. Alternate closed-toe shoes with open-toe shoes.
  • Use an antifungal spray or powder. Spray or sprinkle your feet and the insides of your shoes.
  • Wear rubber gloves. This protects your hands from overexposure to water. Between uses, turn the rubber gloves inside out to dry.
  • Don’t trim or pick at the skin around your nails. This may give germs access to your skin and nails.
  • Don’t go barefoot in public places. Wear shoes around public pools, showers and locker rooms.
  • Give up nail polish and artificial nails. Although it may be tempting to hide nail fungal infections under a coat of pretty pink polish, this can trap unwanted moisture and worsen the infection.
  • Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Nail fungus can spread from nail to nail.
  • And, be sure to choose a reputable manicure and pedicure salon. Make sure the salon sterilizes its instruments. Better yet, bring your own.

Anyone who believes he or she is a victim of an untrustworthy or incompetent nail, beauty, or hair salon should contact of the NY Department of State @ (212)-417-5747. Or you can access the Department’s website at and complete a licensee complaint form. In situations where injuries or fungal infections are serious, the customer should investigate filing a lawsuit against the nail salon or beauty parlor by contacting The Ashley Law Firm.

Be sure to check out some of our most recent post on signs you need a lawyer for medical malpractice, personal injuries and more.

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