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How can a nail stylist recognize a fungal infection?

STALEKS Journalist.
I write about the beauty industry, collect information, and share trends. I manage an interview column on the STALEKS YouTube channel.

Imagine a situation: you are a manicurist and a client with problem nails comes to you. Split nails, yellowish tint, in some places already blackened, the porous structure of the plates – there are signs of a fungal infection. What to do in such a situation? Send a client home (or to another specialist, for example, a dermatologist) or take responsibility and still give a manicure?

Or another story, only now you are in the place of the client. You come to a seemingly decent salon, give your nails in caring hands, make a gorgeous cover. But after a few weeks, you notice that the nails began to deteriorate, and under the carefully selected shade of polish, there is complete horror. Could fungus infect you in this salon? And if so, what should I do?

These two sad stories, alas, occur in real life. Both the client and the master should remember that manicure is a mutual responsibility. You should not go to the procedure if you notice that your nails are not healthy, and in the same way, the nail technician should not heroize and do manicures on such nails. After all, it’s a high probability of infecting another client.

In this article, we will talk about what a fungal infection is, how the nail technician must recognize it, and what to do in such a difficult situation.

 

What is a fungal infection?

Nail fungus is a disease caused by the rapid growth of dermatophyte fungi. Penetrating into the nail plate, the fungus corrodes its upper layer, leading the nail to yellowing and complete deformation, capturing new territories for reproduction.

Fungal infection is accompanied by a rash, swelling of the skin layer, cracking, unpleasant odor. A qualified nail technician can determine the fungus visually, but it is essential to know that an accurate diagnosis can only be made after the analysis and consultation of a dermatologist.

 

What is important to remember?

Many clients, and, unfortunately, even some masters, have an equal sign between the concepts of “infection” and “disease”. But there is a difference.

Infection is contact with fungi. And the disease after this contact may not even  occur.

Infection can be imagined as an attempt to capture a peaceful city. Our body (the “city”) has “protective walls” – immunity. And there are specially trained “military” (lymphocytes) – cells that destroy pathogenic microorganisms.  The result of the struggle between the “military” and the “invaders” depends on:

  1. The number of pathogenic pathogens (dose).
  2. Degrees of pathogenicity. It, by the way, can change, as well as the fighting spirit of the “army”.
  3. From the degree of protection of the “city” – how much immunity is able to track penetration and mobilize defense mechanisms.

The “entrance gate” is also important: the intact stratum corneum of the epidermis is an insurmountable barrier to fungi.

Who is at risk?

Although our immune system is designed to protect the body from various infections, but sometimes it is not able to cope with the “attack”.

The stage of infection with the fungus can flow into the disease if factors favorable for infection and unfavorable for the body are combined:

  • Genetic predisposition;
  • Decrease in local immunity;
  • Increased skin moisture or, conversely, dry skin;
  • Microtrauma;
  • Tight shoes;
  • Taking antibiotics.

 

Where and how does fungal infection occur?

The most obvious source of infection is people with symptoms of fungal infection.

But there are people who are apparently healthy, but are carriers of the disease. The organism of the carrier cannot defeat the fungus, and the fungus cannot overcome the defense – therefore, such people do not have expressed symptoms.  But such people can pass the fungus to others.

Another source is domestic animals, including apparently healthy ones. Cats, dogs, hamsters, parrots – all, perhaps, except for fish.

Fungal spores can be found on the bark and leaves of plants, outside and inside the house, even in the air.

What is the conclusion?  A person is in constant daily contact with fungi from the moment of birth. And as a rule, such contact does not lead to disease.

Therefore, those who are afraid of fungal infection should not be afraid of visiting the beach, sauna, and pool, but take into account other factors that contribute to NOT INFECTION, but precisely DISEASE.

Is it possible to get infected in the salon after a manicure?

Sure. Like anywhere else. Here I want to appeal to both clients and the nail technicians themselves.

Clients should remember that at least 7 days must pass from infection to the first symptoms of the disease. If you were at a manicure or pedicure yesterday, and the next day you feel that fingers scratch, then you were infected not at the procedure, but much earlier.

Even having confirmed the disease in the laboratory, it is impossible to determine when the infection occurred – two weeks, a month or a year ago.

Nail technicians should remember that although the “profession obliges” to create beauty, you should not take responsibility and work with any nails.

Infection should be treated by specialists with a specialized medical education – dermatologists. If you have a client with clearly expressed symptoms, you should not expose yourself and other clients to the risk of infection. Correctly and politely advise the client to consult a dermatologist. Convince that competent treatment is much more important than a beautiful varnish, which, by the way, can aggravate the situation. The main thing in this is tact and confidence! You cannot serve, alas. No, an exception cannot be made either.

For carriers who have no symptoms. n this case, humanity did not come up with anything better than observing safety rules and thorough sterilization. We will tell you more about this below.

 

What safety rules should the master observe?

  • The first thing a nail technician should remember is the organization of the workplace. Tools should be stored in a special tray, the table itself must be wiped with disinfectant wipes and keep order. Hand sanitizers and paper towels should also be nearby.
  • A manicure must be performed with gloves, and change them after each client
  • All tools for manicure and pedicure must be sterilized in accordance with all the rules. Remember that disinfecting instruments by wiping, boiling or ultraviolet light does not destroy the fungus! Only sterilization in autoclaves and dry heat cabinets is able to fight it.
  • Use disposable tips for hardware manicure and pedicure (special pedicure disks).
  •  Instead of reusable files use a tool with a disposable abrasive.  The same applies to the pedicure foot file – you can stick a removable file onto the metal base, and then change it after the client to a new one.

Manicure is a mutual responsibility of the nail technician and the client. f you come into contact with the skin and when working with sharp instruments, there is a risk of contracting an infection, but it can be minimized by following simple safety rules.

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