A seemingly simple, relaxing trip to get a pedicure back in 2010 changed Jenney Howell’s life forever, and she’s sharing her story to bring attention to the potential health problems acquired in some beauty salons.
Howell, of Milton, was featured on Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show, Anderson Live, on Feb. 1 in a segment titled “Dangers at the Beauty Salon.” On the show, Howell talked about her trip to a local nail salon on June 22, 2010.
On that day, Howell was getting a manicure and pedicure for her 44th wedding anniversary. She sat in the pedicure chair after picking out her nail color and an employee began to fill the foot bowl.
According to Howell, the employee could not speak English and pointed to a sign on the wall that said “Helen.” After putting a blue powder in the foot bowl, the employee then pointed for Howell to put her feet in the bowl, so she did.
After having her feet in the bath, Howell placed her feet on a towel on the edge of the bowl and the employee put a white gel in an unmarked bottle on the sides and bottom of her feet.
While still sitting in the pedicure chair, the employee started Howell’s manicure.
Howell said the unmarked gel was still on her feet and it began to sting. Howell told the employee that she was in pain by pointing to her feet, so he employee put Howells feet in the footbath, washed off the gel and continued with the pedicure.
“My feet were red and starting to burn, and I was not sure what was happening. She finished my pedicure, I put on my shoes, and left the nail salon with my feet burning more and more,” Howell wrote in an account of the day.
From there, the pain continued – enough that Howell and her husband returned to the salon to get a copy of the label of the gel used on her feet. The label indicated the gel was a callous remover. It was meant to be in contact with the skin for 45 seconds. The chemical was left on Howell’s feet for more than 35 minutes.
Howell is being represented by the Dan Stewart Law Firm in litigation against the nail salon.
She said it is important to her to warn others, so she created a website, pedicuresafety.org/, to inform the public of dangers in nail salons and to provide links to information about pedicure safety.
This "simple" mistake in timing at the nail salon has caused irreversible pain for Howell, who now has been to five doctors in an attempt to get relief from the pain she still experiences daily, according to the Milton woman.
She’s had a spinal stimulator implanted, which is controlled by a battery pack in her back side. With a remote, Howell controls how much stimulation goes to her feet in order to control pain levels.
“I feel like a robot and still have immense pain that I deal with every single day… The stimulator in my back will have to be replaced through surgery every five years or so,” she said. “This will be something I deal with every single day for the rest of my life.”
-To watch Jenney’s interview on Anderson Cooper, search “Dangers at the Salon: One Woman’s Story”
-Visit pedicuresafety.org/ for more information
Tips to prevent pedicure foot spa infections, from the United States Environmental Protection Agency
-Microorganisms in foot spas can enter through the skin; so broken skin (e.g., cuts and abrasions) should not come into contact with foot spa water.
-Do not shave, use hair removal creams, or wax your legs during the 24 hours before receiving treatment in a foot spa.
-Do not use a foot spa if your skin has any open wounds such as bug bites, bruises, scratches, cuts, scabs, poison ivy, etc.
-Ask salon workers how the foot spas are maintained and how often - A foot spa should be disinfected between each customer, and nightly. The disinfectant needs to work for the full time listed on its label, typically 10 minutes, depending on the type of disinfectant.
- Proper cleaning and disinfection can greatly reduce the risk of getting an infection by reducing the bacteria that can build up in the foot spa system.