KATY, TX (KTRK) -- A manicure and pedicure can be a monthly, even weekly ritual. But for many people in Houston, pampering quickly leads to peril due to unsanitary salon conditions.
In 2014, 40 percent of nail salons in Houston received a correction-needed violation by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.
When Arlene Hill removed her toenail polish 6 months ago, she saw an unwelcome sight.
"There was a lot of debris; it began to get swollen and painful," Hill said.
She visited podiatrist Gabriel Maislos, who gave her more unwelcome news.
"Fifty percent of people who come in here with a nail infection, a fungal infection, get it from a nail salon," Maislos said. "If you look at your nail and it looks yellow, nasty, lifted, thickened, and debris - that's probably indicative of a nail infection."
Maislos treated Hill's fungal infection with a laser. After the treatment, the fungus dissolved and the appearance of the nail improved. In addition to fungal infections, Maislos says bacterial infections like staph or viral infections like warts are also very common.
Eyewitness News spent the day with state inspector Shawn O'Neal and went with him as he visited Fancy Nails in Katy.
"Be sure you look for a salon license, make sure they have a consumer complaint sign, and look at the last inspection report - very important," O'Neal said.
Trimming cuticles leads to open wounds, so he says make sure each station has a light and clean instruments.
"You want to know if they're using an autoclave machine, a dry heat sterilizer, or an ultraviolet machine," O'Neal said.
Pedicure stations are also infection breeding pools, so it is recommended that you ask questions before you put your feet in one. You can also ask to see daily cleaning logs and how often screens are sanitized.
"After each client, they're required to clean with soap and water, and they're required to spray it with an EPA disinfectant." O'Neal said.
The screens at Fancy Nails were clean, but O'Neal says that a brown build up is commonly found during an inspection.
If you get acrylic nails, O'Neal says beware that some salons use machinery drills from the hardware store instead of ones made for nails.
Hill has another tip for those putting polish on their nails.
"Take your own finger nail polish. I had no idea that fungus can live in a bottle of nail polish," Hill said.
The TDLR inspects salons every two years. You can check the status of your salons here.
If you'd like to make sure your provider and salon are licensed, click here.
Click here to file a complaint with TDLR.
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