Warning signs of unsanitary nail salons in Northeast Kansas

Cierra Runge

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Before leaving on vacation this year, Cecilia Cochran made a nail appointment.

“I went and got a gel manicure at a salon in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.  It was nothing out of the ordinary. I got my manicure,” said Cecilia Cochran.

But the ordinary quickly became un-ordinary, just 24 hours after she got her manicure. Cochran’s finger started swelling, taking a quick turn for the worse.

“My finger had doubled in side. I had pus that looked like it was getting ready to bust, and I actually had to go to the emergency room. I ended up fainting and hit my shin on concrete floor. I had to have my finger cut open. It was the result of the cellulitis turned into paronychia. It reported in me passing out from getting in my blood stream,” said Cochran.

Cecilia racked up $5000 worth of medical bills, $1500 of which she was responsible for.

Cochran said something wasn’t clean as a result of a complaint that she filed with the Kansas board of cosmetology.

“They did an inspection and they had two, three violations. Two of which I believe were sanitary conditions. It wasn’t rough. I wasn’t cut in any way. So it just had to be something that wasn’t clean.”

The Kansas Board of Cosmetology has 5 inspectors statewide, regulating 4000 facilities, including tanning, tattoo, piercing, and cosmetic salons.

This year the board has already received two complaints related to nail technology in Northeast Kansas. In 2016, there were eight complaints in the northeast Kansas area. In response to complaints last year, the board assessed 47 disciplinary actions to nail salons in the state. Each salon has a surprise visit, at least once a year, depending on the inspection report.

“We have specific questions on each inspection report for each establishment in regards to licensee, general cleanliness at the facility, and health and sanitation,” said Kansas Board of Cosmetology’s Compliance Supervisor Aubrie Pryer.

In Cecilia’s case, heath and sanitation are in question after her manicure.  Her infection could have been caused by several things inspectors look for.

“There’s several things.  There’s buffers and files. They re-use files. And pumice stones too, they re-use on people’s feet. And they don’t wash their hands between people. They don’t clean the tables off,” said Ava Fiene, an investigator inspector for the Kansas Board of Cosmetology.

After $5000 worth of medical bills following Cecilia’s manicure, what can be done to penalize the salon in question?

State law requires the board to go through many steps, before closing a business or revoking a nail tech’s license.

“The market will take care of itself if you’re getting bad services. But if you’re getting services provided in an environment that’s unsanitary, then we need to know and we will watch out for you as a consumer from that perspective,” said Chiquita Coggs the Executive Director for the Kansas Board of Cosmetology.

Alongside the cosmetology board, Cecilia is hoping to use her experience, to create awareness on what to watch out for the next time you’re at a nail salon.

“Be aware of your surroundings. Look for those things when you come in. I mean bacteria is microscopic; you’re not going see it. But look for those items.  Maybe something isn’t in the right spot. Somethings should be. It should say “clean” or ‘soiled’.  Make sure things are separated and things like that,” stresses Cochran.

After seven stitches and prescribed medicine, Cecilia is fully recovered, but plans to be more aware the next time she gets her nails done. The Kansas board of cosmetology’s goal is to protect the public through education and resources. The board lists disciplinary actions, license information, and a safety guide, online today.

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