Recently, it was reported in “AIDS, Research and Human Retroviruses” that a woman had contracted HIV by sharing manicure equipment with a cousin who was unknowingly HIV positive at the time. This mode of HIV transmission although possible is extremely rare. It is also very difficult to prove and in this particular case, the patient was diagnosed many years after becoming infected.
I found this case particularly interesting however, because the woman who discovered that she was HIV positive had no other risk factors for acquiring the disease; and further, genetic analysis of the viruses from both cousins showed that the two women had highly related viral sequences, thus providing substantial evidence that the mode of transmission was likely secondary to the sharing of the manicure tools.
Although the risk of contracting HIV from manicure tools is extremely low, this case should make people aware that sharing of improperly disinfected manicure tools with possible blood-blood contact (needles for drugs, tattoos or acupuncture) can result in transmission of viruses such as HIV or hepatitis C. More commonly, the sharing of improperly disinfected manicure equipment, coupled with nail compromise, cuts or skin breakage, may result in the acquisition of fungal or bacterial infections.
Most people going to the nail salon don’t think twice about how the manicure tools are being disinfected. Metal tools are usually removed from a disinfectant liquid or UV light box, and it is assumed that the salon follows strict guidelines.
Healthy nails are beautiful nails. Take your health into your hands by bringing your own set of tools to the salon, never sharing your manicure set, and by properly disinfecting them at home by following these simple steps:
1) The first step is to sanitize your tools as well as a pair of metal tongs by cleaning your nail implements with hot water and antibacterial soap. Don a pair of gloves and scrub away with a bristle brush. Make sure that you rinse off all excess soap.
2) The next step is to disinfect your tools. You can either boil your tools for 15 minutes in a pot of boiling water by carefully placing them in the water with your sanitized tongs or “bake” your tools for 15 minutes in the oven at 375°F in a disposable aluminum pan. Use your tongs to remove the tools and place them on a stack of clean paper towels where your tools can dry or cool. Now your tools are ready to be put into a clean carrying case.
3) Swab the tips of your tools with rubbing alcohol before using.