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'My face was burning': Woman fights staph infection after salon visit

A woman whose face became covered with boils after a visit to an "unhygienic" salon is warning others to be careful.
/ Source: TODAY

An Australian woman who says she contracted a staph infection after going to an “unhygienic” salon is warning others about taking care when choosing beauty parlors.

Kaity Hull, 21, visited a salon in suburban Melbourne this month to get eyelash extensions. Soon after, she developed a rash on her face that left her cheeks and chin covered with small white boils.

“I had contracted staphylococcus aureus from this unhygienic salon. They do not sterilize their equipment,” Hull wrote in a Facebook review of the business.

“Please take caution ladies, I don't wish this pain and suffering on anyone!”

Hull didn’t reply to a request for comment, but she told a local newspaper she had to postpone a vacation, miss several days of work and was left traumatized by the ordeal.

“My face was burning and it felt like it was on fire,” she told the Maroondah Leader. Health inspectors visited the salon last week and banned it from performing eyelash applications until officials were satisfied that “infection control procedures are in place,” the newspaper reported.

Infections like the one Hull contracted are rare, but good hygiene is crucial when having cosmetic procedures, said Dr. Debra Wattenberg, a New York dermatologist and founder of NY Skin RX. Wattenberg was not involved in Hull’s case, but commented in general.

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Lots of bacteria live on the human body and there are people who can carry staph or other types of organisms in their nose and on their skin, Wattenberg noted. If you get a cut or have a procedure done in non-sterile conditions or use a product that’s contaminated, the staph can grow rapidly.

Staph infections are usually superficial on the skin and can spread to form little pustules, which can grow larger and create a boil or an abscess, she added.

“People who get cosmetic procedures done in places that are not so hygienic can end up getting, or are at risk for, these types of infections,” Wattenberg told TODAY.

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Staph infections are treated with oral antibiotics, but patients can end up with significant scarring, Wattenberg noted. In some cases, the infection can go into the blood stream and cause people to get very ill.

If you are heading to a salon for a procedure, Wattenberg suggested taking some precautions:

• Make sure the salon has an experienced esthetician who is well trained in the procedure.

• Make sure the conditions you’re entering appear to be clean and sterile. Do employees wash their hands?

• Ask lots of questions beforehand: Is the salon using disposable instruments? Is the esthetician using gloves?

Don’t take chances at home, either, and replace your make-up frequently. A mascara wand can transfer bacteria from the eye to the tube, where the germs can breed more rapidly, Wattenberg noted. Then, the next time you apply mascara with the germy product, you can create an infection.

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