Street nail trimming: A public health risk

Nails Cut It

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 Source: Gbolu Samson

It’s important to keep fingernails and toenails clean and trimmed all the time. Keeping them clean will keep a lot of germs away from you.

Long fingernails and toenails serve as breeding grounds for germs/pathogens. You would have observed that a lot of dirt accumulates in overgrown fingernails/toenails.

Overgrown fingernail/toenail may also cause injuries to the finger, toe and other body parts. You might have hurt yourself or sustained injuries from an overgrown toenails/fingernails before.

Inasmuch as it’s a good hygiene behaviour to get the fingernail/toenail trimmed and cleaned, it’s also important to observe certain precautions in order not to pick up infections in the process.

It is now common to find boys moving all over our streets in towns and cities with sharp instruments purported for fingernail and toenail trimming. A section of Ghanaians have also taken interest in patronizing “street nail trimming”. If you happened to be patronizing services of these boys on the street, it’s about time you give it a second thought – your chances of being infected with blood-borne pathogens are high.

These boys usually use one sharp object in attending to tens of customers on our streets in a day. The potency of the liquid or purported disinfectant they use in disinfecting their instruments cannot be guaranteed. Has the Food and Drugs Authority certified the disinfectants being used by these boys who engage in this business?

One may say the activity offers some kind of employment for those who engage in it, but it obviously shouldn’t be at the peril of another person’s health and safety.

It’s common knowledge that one of the ways by which one can be infected with HIV and other blood-borne pathogens is by sharing sharp objects with others.

Studies revealed that Hepatitis B and C and HIV are transmitted through exposure to blood and blood components (Kordi & Wallace, 2004). Bleeding due to the habit of removing the cuticles of the finger and toenails, with inappropriate sterilization of instruments can be an important factor of contamination by hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (Oliveira & Focaccia, 2010).

You may have to avoid patronizing the services of these boys on the streets. The longest it could ever take you is 15-20 minutes and you are done trimming your toenails and fingernails by yourself. If you still see this as tedious, go to a pedicure shop you trust and get it done!

Remember that pathogens are becoming resistant and dynamic everyday, attributable to a lot of factors. A chemical/drug that was effective against a pathogen years ago may still not be effective against the same pathogen today.

Who knows if the disinfectants these boys are using today are still effective against pathogens which might have changed their strains and developed some resistance over the years?

Columnist: Gbolu Samson