New Regulations for Whirlpool Foot Spas Adopted by Texas Cosmetology Commission


DALLAS -- The Texas Cosmetology Commission (TCC) has adopted new regulations for whirlpool foot spas effective July 19, 2004, based on recommendations from Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) after health officials began receiving reports of patients experiencing bacterial skin infections from pedicures.


In March, we were notified by dermatologists about patients experiencing bacterial infections (nontuberculous mycobacterial infections) on their legs caused from pedicures in whirlpool foot spas, DCHHS Medical Director Dr. David Buhner said.


DCHHS epidemiologist Jacie Volkman, MPH, was put in charge of the investigation.  She interviewed patients and informed the TCC about the situation. At the time, no regulations for whirlpool foot spas existed in the TCC safety code.


I researched other states, such as California, who had experienced a similar outbreak, Volkman said.  I made recommendations for safety regulations of whirlpool foot spas to TCC based on this research. Yesterday, the TCC put those recommendations into effect as sanitary regulations for whirlpool foot spas.


In summary, the new regulations applying to whirlpool foot spas are:


-- Tools must be disinfected for 10 minutes after use.  

-- Whirlpool foot spa basin must be cleaned and disinfected with an EPA registered disinfectant before use on each patron

-- Whirlpool foot spa basin must be wiped dry with a clean towel before use

-- Whirlpool foot spa system must be flushed every night for 10 minutes

-- Every other week the system should be flushed with bleach and water for 5 to 10 minutes and allowed to sit for 6 to 10 hours

-- A record should be made of the date and time of each of cleaning, whether daily or bi-weekly.


General Recommendations for nail salon safety are:

-- Consumers should not shave their legs or have any open wounds on legs or feet before the pedicure.

-- Foot spas or foorbath units should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.  The technicians work area should also be free of debris and dirt.

-- The salons Texas Cosmetology Commission license should be posted in plain view in the reception area and the nail technicians license should be posted at his or her work station. Both licenses should be current.  A recent inspection report by the commission should also be posted.

-- If consumers have any doubts about the cleanliness standards at a salon, they should leave.


If what you can see isnt clean, then what you cant see probably isnt clean either, Ms. Volkman said.


DCHHS and TCC also recommend that consumers keep the following information in mind when getting a manicure or a pedicure:


-- Manicures and pedicures should not be painful or leave your cuticles bloody and swollen.

-- Manicurists/pedicurists should wash their hands with soap and water before touching a clients hands/feet.

-- Thorough washing and disinfecting of all tools should be performed after every use. Make sure the technician is washing the instruments in hot soapy water and that disinfectant is applied to the instruments.  Soiled instruments must be stored separately from clean instruments.

-- Emery boards that are not approved for disinfection should be discarded after use to prevent transmission of yeast or bacterial infections from one clients nails to the next.

-- Instruments and supplies that cannot be disinfected, such as orange sticks and the sponges placed between the toes should be thrown away immediately after use.

-- The salon should have adequate ventilation without an overwhelming smell of nail polish or polish remover that may cause an increased fire hazard.

-- Drill bits should be cleaned after each client.


Consumers with a health or safety issue from a nail salon may file a complaint with the Texas Cosmetology Commission. Complaint forms can be downloaded from the commissions Web site at or by calling (800) 943-8922.  Any consumer who believes they may have acquired an infection from a nail salon needs to contact their physician for immediate treatment.


Source: Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services

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