Investigation: Board doesn't conduct random inspections of nail salons, mainly 'complaint-based'

Investigation: Board doesn't conduct random inspections of nail salons, mainly 'complaint-based'

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After our 12 On Your Side investigation last week into problems in local nail salons, many viewers told us they have also received infections or a fungus from nail salons. Some asked why Virginia's Cosmetology Board doesn't conduct more "spot inspections" to make sure nail salons are properly cleaned.

"It makes me extremely self conscious, I don't like to wear shorts," said former nail salon customer Kimberly Allmond about the scars on her legs.

Allmond says she developed the scars from a bacterial infection that she believes she received during a pedicure in a nail salon.

"It was a skin infection. I was on an antibiotic for quite some time," Allmond told us. "The one they did the biopsy on, I had stitches."

Many women told us on Facebook that they wished the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology conducted more "spot inspections" of nail salons, rather than inspecting mainly after someone has filed a complaint.

"I think that's really sad that it has to come to this for them to check on the salons," said Allmond. "It should be just like a restaurant."

We took viewers' concerns about this issue to Mary Broz-Vaughan with the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology.

"I think there might be a general idea among consumers that random spot inspections happen in areas that they often don't, like medical offices," said Broz-Vaughan. "That doesn't happen either. It's not like the restaurant inspections."

So why are the Board's inspections complaint-driven rather than random? Broz-Vaughan says the Board performed random inspections from 2011 to 2013, and found only 30% had infractions, which were mostly minor.

"The most common violations are failure to post licenses in public view, failure to immediately remove implements from the top of your work station," said Broz-Vaughan. "These are not the things that would lead to the pedicure spa nightmares."

The Board requires nail salons to maintain a checklist in the salon of what's been cleaned, but the Board says it's up to you, the consumer, to check a nail salon's licensing on or on the salon wall. You can also print the checklist from the DPOR website so that you know what signs of cleanliness to look for in a salon.

The Health Department tells us it does not have jurisdiction to inspect nail salons, but that some cities and counties choose to contract with the Health Department to inspect them. The Cosmetology Board says, to their knowledge, that happens only in localities in the Tidewater area.

Allmond said she doesn't feel she was protected.

"I have not been back to a salon to have a manicure or pedicure since then. I refuse to. I never will go back to another one."

The Cosmetology Board encourages consumers who see a maintenance issue or contracts an infection in a nail salon to file a complaint with Board so it can be investigated.

Copyright 2016 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved