Pedicure Bacteria Problem Worries Health Officials

Health inspectors are worried an unusual problem in California could develop here, CBS4 News reports.

Hundreds of women in California have gotten horrible boils and rashes on their legs from pedicures.

It can take six months to three years to clear up the condition, which often leaves permanent scars.

In Colorado, there are two inspectors for all the salons in the state. The inspectors indicate the problem with pedicures could happen here.

At area spas, they submerge your feet in warm water, they clip, they file, they scrub.

“I’m on my feet working and it’s a nice treat,” one patron said.

Californian Cherri Brown’s experience was a little less stellar. “It really turned into a nightmare,” she said. “It was a very horrible thing to live through.”

Brown is one of the plaintiffs in a California law suit. She ended up with painful and oozing boils on her legs from a pedicure.

The boils, according to state inspector Kevin Heupel are “a form of tuberculosis.”

Heupel said this bacteria is found in the filters of pedicure chairs. A clean basin doesn’t insure a sanitary filter.

“We’ve seen clean basins,” he said. “Then, you take off the filter and you have junk, orange-blackish in color and you only see it if you take off the filter.”

An inspection at an Aurora salon revealed clean filters. State agents urge all customers to take precautions. According to Heupel, the bacteria enters through open wounds.

“It will go through the open cut and enter the body and it thrives on eating the flesh,” he said. “The best thing a consumer can do is to not shave their legs prior to getting a pedicure. And, don’t get one if you have an open wound or cut on your feet or calf.”

Inspectors say they can’t possibly check on all the state’s salons, so they visit only after a customer has filed a complaint against the business.

Brown said she doesn’t want to show the 27 lesions she has on one leg, nor the 47 she has on the other. Her hour of pampering has left her with scars likely to last a lifetime.

“I think most people think this won’t happen to me, but you need to be concerned,” she said.

Colorado authorities get about 150 complaints a year from customers of salons.

Investigators suggest checking to see if your salon is licensed, and say you should ask how often they clean their equipment.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Dave R. Roger, M.D.