Our body is composed of chemicals and so are our nails. In addition, our daily routine exposes us to chemicals at home, at our workplace, on the streets in the form of smoke, dust and virtually in all the products that we use. Used in proportion chemicals like creams, sprays and so on protect our skin from aging and damage and add to our beauty. Similarly, used in excess these same products may cause chemical over exposure and allergic reactions on our body.
Allergies are a reaction of our immune system and are a form of hypersensitivity where white blood cells get excessively activated and cause inflammation, redness, boils, fever. At a nail spa, the technician and clients are constantly exposed to chemicals which are used to treat the nails. These chemicals should be carefully used to prevent over exposure which may in turn damage the nails. The nail tech should therefore pay careful attention to each step in the nail enhancement technique ranging from preparation of the chemicals to application and finally the finishing.
Allergies can appear either in stages over a long period of time or immediately after a short exposure to some substance. Allergic contact dermatitis is a condition which develops as a result of skin sensitization over a period of time due to exposure of a substance for few days or years. It is characterized by blisters, itching, redness, swelling of the skin which is present in the area of contact of the allergic substance. Irritant contact dermatitis develops due to heavy short term exposure or a long low exposure to a substance. The chemical or irritant enters beneath the skin and reacts with the tissues to damage the skin. The result is itchiness, swelling, skin damage like blisters and scales.
As nail techs constantly come in contact with nail dust, gels, acrylics, primers, polish removers, they are susceptible to allergies and should take adequate precautions to protect themselves. Clients on the other hand can develop allergies to some nail treatments and products like gels, acrylics, removers which may cause skin and nail damage.
Some tips that nail techs should keep in mind to avoid chemical over exposure to them and clients are:
o Keep your salon clean – use clean linen for each client, see that all equipment is sterilized before and after use, trash bags are changed daily.
o Maintain personal hygiene – wear appropriate clothing to protect your skin from nail dust, wear a face mask to keep away dust and odors frequently changing it and never treat your worktable like a dining area. Undesirable chemicals may pass into your food and cause adverse reactions.
o Carefully prepare your work area before each client appointment so that you do not end up mixing the wrong chemicals in a hurry and causing damage to client nails.
o Use and store all nail care products as per the manufacturer’s instructions and do not try to mix unadvised quantities as this may cause mishaps like burns on the skin and damage to the nail plate.
o Only mix the amount of liquid you will need for application and never more. This will avoid wastage as well as limit the amount of harmful vapors which will be emitted.
o Keep your spa well ventilated to release any vapors and odors which may linger on after a nail job.
o Keep a small area around the cuticle free of any product to allow the application to settle firmly and avoid over exposure of chemical on the nail plate.
o Do not keep wet brushes on towels or indiscriminately wipe them with whatever comes your way. Instead use disposable towels.
Maintaining these basic hygiene standards will go a long way in preventing any allergies or chemical over exposures to yourself and your clients. High standards will also add immensely to your appointment book.
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