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Beauty... at a price?

View profile for Kate Sweeney
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We are all aware of what are deemed "hazardous" occupations: firemen and people who have worked with asbestos for example, but would you ever think that a beauty salon nail technician would fit into this category?

There has been mention in the media several times recently of the dangers and health risks associated with the application and use of acrylic nails, both for the technician and for the customer. The chemical methyl methacrylate, commonly known as MMA, can be found in some of the acrylic nail products that are used in the UK. Alarmingly, this product has been banned for use in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, but is still sometimes used in the UK, despite being linked to respiratory problems, serious allergic skin reactions, nail infections, and in extreme cases, organ damage and problems during pregnancy. Prolonged exposure to this harmful chemical is often inevitable for a nail technician. 

Most reputable beauty clinics use the alternative compound, Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA), which has been classed as safe by the Food and Drug Administration, however, as MMA costs around a sixth of the price of EMA, some technicians still choose to use this, despite the well documented health hazards.

Additionally, acrylic and gel nails are usually bonded to the wearer's own nail with the use of a UV light.  Regular wearers of acrylic nails will expose their hands to intense bursts of UV rays several times over the course of a year. Studies have confirmed that this is a major risk factor for the development of skin cancer, and indeed a number of women in the US are reported to have developed cancerous tumours on their hands, thought to be linked to long term UV exposure. UV light can also cause potential problems for people who are on certain medications, such as tetracycline and the acne drug, istretinoin. 

Of course, added to this is the fact that acrylic and gel nails bond so firmly to the wearer's own nail, that there is a risk of the nail being damaged when the acrylics are removed, and with a general weakening of the nail underneath, this can lead to fungal infections. 

A call has been made in Parliament for a new bill to introduce compulsory licensing of nail bars and salons, however, to date, this has not happened.

The general advice when looking out for a salon to use is that the premises should appear to be clean and tidy, aftercare advice should be given either verbally or in leaflet form, and ideally a medical history should be taken from the customer in order for the technician to advise properly on whether that treatment is suitable. You should let any nail technician know if you have a history of eczema, dermatitis etc, a history of allergies, if you are undergoing any radiation or chemotherapy treatments, and if you have a history of skin cancer.

If you have suffered an accident related to the use of the professional application of acrylic nails, or other beauty treatment, then you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact Stephensons personal injury department, where specialists can advise you: 0845 144 1441.

By personal injury executive, Pauline Smith

 

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