Serious infections caused by unhygienic nail salons prompt calls for national standards

A rise in serious infections caused by unhygienic nail salons has prompted calls for a set of national standards.

Podiatry NZ says there's an appalling lack of infection control at many cheap, unhygienic, nail salons which continue to operate without regulation.

"A recent survey that's come out in Wellington shows that nail bars, particularly or walk-in nail bars, are five times more likely to use less infection control and sterilisation," said Jennifer Pelvin, Podiatry NZ chief executive.

Cellulitis is a life-threatening bacterial infection that Mary Chapman picked up from a shopping mall nail salon.

"There was so much pain, I was crying. It was absolutely hideous," she said.

Podiatrists need to be registered under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act but walk-in nail bars, which offer some of the same services do not. That means nobody is making sure the tools being used are sterile.

"There are some online courses that people can take, to provide themselves with a certificate to say that they've undertaken training but generally there are no qualifications that are required," said Pelvin.

Currently, Taranaki, Auckland and Masterton have bylaws set out to create health and safety standards. But the NZ Beauty Association, says those councils are under-resourced.

"Nationally, all the councils need to join together to have one set of regulatory policy," said Kim Ryan, the association's President.

"If you've got a cheap service, you've got a cheap service for a reason, they're taking shortcuts."

Chapman says she suffered no lasting damage - but takes extra care when choosing a nail bar.