Woman Says She Suffered Horrifying Burns on Her Foot During Salon Pedicure
Even though we’ve all heard horror stories about injuries and infections that can happen at nail salons, it doesn’t stop most of us from casually strolling in and plopping ourselves down in the cushy pedicure chairs to request a pampering and beautifying foot treatment.
Unfortunately, when Cindy Dillon did exactly that at a salon in Ottawa, Kansas, she couldn’t stroll out quite as casually as she strolled in, due to painful burns she says she received during a spa pedicure session.
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“During my pedicure my pedicure girl put on callous remover on my feet, wrapped my feet in plastic and wrapped them in hot towels,” Dillon wrote in a public Facebook post in July. “While she was doing my best friends’ pedicure, she had forgotten about me. I felt a burning sensation on my foot and told the young lady that my foot was burning. She pulled off my wrapped feet and I had a 4th degree burn on my foot!”
According to Kansas City’s Fox 4 News, Dillon believes the burn is the result of a callus-removing gel that was accidentally dripped on top of her foot, where the burns ultimately developed. She says that after the application of the gel, her feet were wrapped in hot towels and plastic for 15 minutes, until she felt the burning sensation.
Fox 4 reports that a doctor then diagnosed Dillon’s injury as a “second- or third-degree burn.” (However, Dillon claims in her Facebook post that it’s a fourth-degree burn).
According to Nails magazine, the most common active ingredients found in callus-removing formulas are urea, salicylic acid (which is commonly found in acne treatments) and potassium hydroxide. Although these ingredients are used without issues on salon clients every day, a bad reaction isn’t out of the question.
“Salicylic acid can cause skin irritation and give a burning sensation, especially if the skin is compromised,” says Birnur Aral, Ph.D., Director of the Good Housekeeping Institure’s Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab. She says because potassium hydroxide is an alkaline, caustic substance, it could have also contributed to a bad reaction if Dillon has sensitive or compromised skin.
And while the hot towels alone could have cause the burns if they were hot enough, Dr. Aral says, “I think heat can exacerbate the skin’s reaction” to the active ingredients.
The salon has denied any wrongdoing, and according to Dillon’s Facebook post, “After asking the salon to pay my medical bills, and they decline, [I] also [found] out they had no insurance.”
When GoodHousekeeping.com reached out to the salon’s attorney, Jennifer Spangler, she said, “Both the salon owner and the licensed cosmetologist which performed the services for Ms. Dillon have expressed sincere regret that Ms. Dillon had some sort of reaction after her May visit. Ms. Dillon had been a frequent client at the salon and there had never been issues with her service. After speaking with the people present, observing procedures, and researching applicable laws, regulations, and industry standards, I am confident that there is no fault attributable to either the salon or the technician.“
Spangler also claims that Dillon requested for the pedicure to be finished even though the technician, who has been certified since 2009, pointed out some redness. “Ms. Dillon then received the service for free, and requested a free set of acrylic nails to make her feel better.”
Spangler expresses empathy on behalf of the salon staff, but because all sanitizing practices met applicable standards, products were used as directed and no health conditions or allergies were mention by the client, she insists that Dillon’s discomfort cannot be blamed on anything they did.
“[It was] one of the most painful things I’ve ever been through,” Dillon told Fox 4, saying she now has nerve damaging and scarring as a result of the incident.
It’s a reminder that we should all be diligent when visiting a nail salon.
“If you are getting a mani or pedi for the first time in a salon, ask if the ingredients they use are irritating,” Dr. Aral recommends. “Also only use salons that use sanitized, autoclaved tools. They should be breaking a new pouch before your eyes like they do in a dentist’s office for the best hygiene.”