Pedicure leaves a woman’s foot with third-degree burns

A woman spent two months recovering from her last pedicure after it left her foot covered with third-degree burns that she described as ‘shooting pain like knives.’

Cindy Dillon said gel meant to remove calluses was dripped onto the top of her foot and wrapped in hot towels and plastic for 15 minutes at her local nail salon in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dillon said she bent over in the salon chair and saw ‘this terrible, terrible burn on my foot.’

But her faulty nail experience comes as one of the many accounts of bacterial and fungal infection spread by salons that have lead to surgery and in severe cases amputation.

A woman from Kansas City said she was burned at the nail salon by gel used for calluses

Cindy Dillon describes the burn as 'shooting pain like knives' and said it took two months of recovery

Cindy Dillon describes the burn as ‘shooting pain like knives’ and said it took two months of recovery

Doctors diagnosed the burn as second or third-degree but the salon denied any wrongdoing 

Doctors diagnosed the burn as second or third-degree but the salon denied any wrongdoing 


Make sure the nail technicians are wearing gloves 

Bring your own tools to the nail salon 

Ask technicians about the salon’s disinfecting procedures

Never allow anyone to use a credo blade, a callus razor that resembles a vegetable peeler, or any other type of sharp instrument to remove skin

Though not required, some salons place a plastic liner inside the pedicure bath and put disinfected nail tools in a dated and sealed bag

The pedicure bath should be cleaned with soap and water before being sprayed with a hospital-grade disinfectant

Most liquid callus removers are made with salicylic acid that helps the callus to gradually peel off. The label warns only to be applied to the affected area and to rinse with cold water if the surrounding area is exposed.

However, this ingredient is commonly found in face wash and other direct-skin treatments.

It’s possible Dillon could have been allergic to the specific gel used or it contained harsher chemicals when exposed to unaffected skin. 

And though the salon denied any wrongdoing, it was cited on its last two inspections for not following proper sanitation procedures, including not cleaning the pedicure chair.

Dillon’s open sore from the burn could also have easily transmitted dangerous bacteria and caused infection if exposed to an unsanitized pedicure bath. 

Dr. Daniel Aires, head of dermatology at the University of Kansas Health System said ‘I’ve seen it all’ when it comes to nail salon infection.

‘I’ve seen oozing pus. I’ve seen bright red painful fingers. I’ve seen people who have had to lose part of a finger,’ Aires said.

Bacterial and fungal infections are commonly transferred in nail salons from used tool and unsanitized surfaces, such as a pedicure bath.

The bacteria can cause dangerous infections such as MRSA, swine flu and athletes foot.

Robert Spalding, a Tennessee podiatrist and author of Death by Pedicure, says the most alarming health risk at a nail salon is injury that leads to infection. 

It’s especially important for salons to follow sterilizing procedures to prevent blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis in the event of injury.

Infection symptoms include pain, redness, itching or pus in our around the nail area. Nail discoloration is also a sign of a bacterial and fungal infection.

Spalding notes that about 75 percent of salons in the US don’t follow state protocol for disinfection.

Tools are required to be soaked in a disinfectant for 10 to 15 minutes but Spalding says when shops get busy, tools are often removed early and used on the next client.

Infection can also stem from dull nail files, not changing pedicure bath linings, and breaking the skin with sharp instruments typically used to cut corns or calluses. 

Spalding adds: ‘A huge number of people walk in with nail fungus, and most state laws prohibit them to be served, but they are served anyway. That then causes a bigger problem on the bacterial level.’