Special Report: Problem pedicure
"If you have a cut or an abrasion, you can pick up a bacteria infection or a fungal infection," Chief of Podiatry for Brigham and Women's Hospital Dr. James P Ioli said.
We all love those pedicure chairs. But what's beneath the chair could lead to a problem pedicure.
Over time, the drains and pipes can become a basin for bacteria.
"There's skin, there's nails that go down into the whirlpool spa, and go back into the area where the filter is. And so, as my doctor explained to me, it's like swamp water," Francis Cannon, who contracted a bacterial skin infection, said.
7News went along with State Inspectors to see what's really in the water.
We collected and tested samples from salons in Somerville and Cambridge, and some of them got nailed.
All of the samples came back with massive amounts of bacteria.
Five out of seven had levels too numerous to count.
To give you an idea how bad the problem was, regulations for swimming pool water allow no more than a bacterial count of 200. Our tests came back with counts of more than 60,000.
"The temperature is high, it's dark, warm, moist. It could have mold, fungus, and some bacteria. It's a perfect breeding ground for that," Dr. Ioli said.
We also found staph running rampant. Four of the samples had levels so high, they could lead to serious and often critical infections. E. coli and salmonella were abundant as well. One sample shows a frightening level.
With all this bacteria breeding, your feet could be soaking in something sickening.
"The longer you stay, the more water gets absorbed and things loosen up, and start causing a problem, " Dr. Ioli said.
Just last month, a Texas woman died after her foot was cut during a pedicure.
"She didn't feel the cut, she just happened to look down and see the cut on the pumice stone," David Jackson, husband of the Texas woman, said.
The 46-year-old mother developed a massive staph infection that traveled through her bloodstream.
Doctors say the best defense is a good offense. Always, check for yourself when you are in a salon.
Are they disinfecting the pedicure tubs? Are they running fresh water through the pipes and sterilizing the tools?
"Make sure they're pulling out clean things, you don't want them to pull something out of where you can't see," Amy Naylor, Licensed Cosmetologist, said.
Following these simple suggestions will help make your pedicure perfect, not a problem.
Another good suggestion; shave your legs a day or two before a pedicure and not right before you go in.
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