Dr. Lisa Kellett warns that using disinfectant or a UV light, both commonly used in spas and salons, is often not an adequate way of cleaning tools and work surfaces.
Be sure that all instruments that are not disposable – such as nail files and clippers – are sterilized in an autoclave, a medical-grade device that uses superheated steam to sterilize. It’s the only way to be sure that infectious organisms have been destroyed.
Consider investing in your own set of tools: many spas and salons will sterilize and store them for you for free, or you can bring your own set from home each time you go.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: Anything from red patches to pustules or sloughing of the skin. Can include pain, plus and fever.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Depending on the type of infection, bacterial infections can get serious very quickly. The infections in this group range from mildly irritating skin conditions to life threatening infections such as Group A streptococcus – aka flesh-eating disease. If you think you might have a bacterial infection, see a doctor as soon as possible.
TREATMENT: Topical or oral antibiotics. A skin infection usually takes about a week to clear up, but a more serious infection could lead to hospitalization for a few weeks.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: Nails can become thickened, brittle and discoloured. The nail may begin to lift off the nail bed. An overproduction of keratin, combined with dead skin, may collect under the nail.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: See a doctor immediately. The infection can spread to other fingers or toes and other people.
TREATMENT: Oral or topical antifungal medication. The infection may take up to 18 months to clear.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: A scaly, sometimes itchy red rash that sometimes produces pustules.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: See a doctor immediately. The infection can spread to other parts of the body and to other people.
TREATMENT: A topical antifungal cream to treat the infected area.
Most fungal skin infections clear up in two to four weeks.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE: Small, red, sometimes painful bumps and/or large, cyst like nodules under the skin. In severe cases may be accompanied by fever.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: See a doctor as soon as possible.
TREATMENT: Oral antibiotics.
Prepare for a long haul- you’ll have to take the pills for a few months before the infection clears up.