Illinois Launches Education Effort to Prevent Infection; Agencies Announce New Guidelines for Nail Technicians

CHICAGO -- Pedicures, particularly spa pedicures, have rapidly become an important part of prepping for holiday parties or tropical vacations. Unfortunately, the growth in popularity of nail and spa salons has also resulted in a growing number of reports of infections caused by less than meticulous salons.


Illinois Departments of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and Public Health (IDPH) last week announced an intense public and professional education program to ensure that sterilization guidelines already recommended by industry trade associations are stringently adhered to by licensed beauty and nail salons in Illinois. The careful sterilization procedures outlined by the state of Illinois will dramatically reduce health risks that may arise from these relatively rare infections.


While there was only one case in Illinois, we did not want to wait until this problem became widespread, said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. Todays announced effort to educate Illinois licensed professionals will ensure that improved

health and safety standards are implemented by salon owners immediately, said Fernando Grillo, secretary of IDFPR. We intend to mandate these requirements through legislative and regulatory actions in the near future.


IDFPR and IDPH conducted field tests on random Illinois salons, after learning of an outbreak of more than 150 reported cases of skin boils caused by Mycobacterium fortuitum and other related mycobacteria in California spa-pedicure customers. When the results of the field test were received, the inspectors found a significant percentage of the salons spa pedicure whirlpools tested positive for the bacteria. While this bacterium is commonly found in water and soil, the warm, wet climate of a spa pedicure is the perfect breeding ground for these germs to multiply.


The multi-language education campaign consists of providing guidelines about

new sterilization procedures to all 6,000 licensed salons and barbershops in Illinois. In addition, IDFPR is working with the 100 licensed cosmetology schools to educate their students about the new procedures. The departments are also asking salons to post these guidelines in public areas of their salons to educate their customers.


In the upcoming legislative session, IDFPR will be requesting new authority to strengthen its ability to regulate nail salons and spas, including stronger sanitation requirements and more robust enforcement authority. The new, more stringent sanitary requirements for nail salons have been developed in conjunction with IDPH. Enforcing these requirements will ensure that Illinois nail salons and spas are safe for their customers


Copies of the sterilization guidelines and customer warnings are available on


Source: Illinois Department of Health