Woman briefly blinded by eyelash extensions warns others of potential dangers

In the name of beauty, we can put up with a lot of discomfort and a little pain. One woman in the U.K. thought that’s all she was doing when she got eyelash extensions last week and the process started to sting her eye, but a reaction to the glue her tech was using temporarily blinded her. Though this isn’t a typical problem, it brings to light the potential dangers of the process when it isn’t done right.

“Girls, be very, very careful where you get your eyelashes done!!” Megan Rixson tweeted last week. “I got my individuals done today somewhere new, and it turns out they used nail glue on my lashes. I genuinely lost my sight for 2 hours.”

Rixson told Buzzfeed News that the stinging began while the technician was applying the lashes to her open eyes. The technician said that was totally normal and continued to work on her. Later, when she was in pain and lost her eyesight, she went to a clinic and got an eye wash and drops. Now she’s on the mend but was also eager to share her experience as a warning to others.

Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes in New York, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that what Rixson experienced was definitely not normal and was probably an indication that the technician was not an experienced or trained professional.

“When you’re getting extensions done, the eyes are closed the entire time,” Richardson explains. “The likelihood of getting any adhesive or anything in the eyes should be low.”

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Callus removers

Many salons offer callus remover procedures, often using cheese grater-like devices (or the real things!), but this can be very dangerous, warns Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, a podiatrist in New York, New York. "When these go too deep and are used on patients with thin skin, poor circulation, or diabetes, it can cause burns and terrible wounds or infections," she says. To avoid this, she recommends using creams specially made for thicker foot skin. "These creams have gentler ingredients like urea and lactic acid and can be used several times a week to keep skin smooth and thin out calluses in little time," she adds.

Or you may want to try one of these eight reliable home remedies for removing calluses.

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Cutting the cuticles 

The very purpose of cuticles are to protect the nail matrix, which are the cells that grow nails, explains Dr. Sutera. When the cuticle is cut, this can expose you to infections and damage to the nail matrix. "Damage to the nail matrix will permanently grow out nails that are thick, discolored and very unsightly," she says. "This can often be mistaken for fungal nails." Instead, she recommends having your technician gently push the cuticle back to remove the excess growth. "Only hangnails or jagged cuticle skin should be carefully trimmed with clean instruments," she adds. Learn what your fingernails can reveal about your health.

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Whirpool baths

This might seem like a relaxing way to spend some time while you're at the spa, but experts warn that there may be bacteria and fungus swirling around in those footbaths. "You can come out with unpleasant health issues after soaking in unsanitized whirlpool jets," warns Caitlin Hoff, health and safety investigator for ConsumerSafety.org. To protect yourself, she recommends finding a salon that uses plain glass bowls (that they also clean between appointments) or individual bath liners that are removed and replaced between each client. Try these remedies for swollen feet.

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Treatment of ingrown nails

Some nail techs treat ingrown nails, but podiatrists recommend against letting them do this. "Ingrown toenails often have already punctured the skin and sometimes have a localized abscess or pus pocket associated with it," says Dr. Sutera. "If a trained podiatrist isn't the one caring for it, you could be exposed to a bacterial infection which would require antibiotics or, worse, nail removal."

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Cellulitis

This is a common and sometimes deadly bacterial skin infection that typically enters your body through a cut or crack in your skin, warns Hoff. This is why experts recommend you wait 24 hours after shaving your legs to get a pedicure. "If your pedicurist accidentally cuts your cuticle or neighboring skin incorrectly, this open wound could be a new entry point as well for the bacteria," she says. "If not treated, the infection will spread and potentially be life-threatening." Here are some signs of cellulitis and other skin infections you should never ignore.

The flu 

While not linked to the actual process of getting a pedicure, close and personal environments, like the nail salon, can lead to the spread of the flu. "If workers are not wearing gloves, not washing hands in between clients, or seeing clients while they're sick, it could spread the virus," warns Dr. Cozzetto. "Remember, the flu virus can live for up to eight hours, so an infected customer could spread the virus to you if the chairs are not wiped down in between customers."

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Foot ulcers

Startling fact: An estimated 1.6 million New Yorkers with diabetes have foot ulcers, according to research by the New York Podiatric Medical Association (NYPSMA). "People with this condition, as well as vascular conditions, should especially avoid pedicures, as they are at greater risk for infections, ulcers, and amputations," warns Patricia Nicholas, DPM, president of NYPSMA. "In 2010, 73,000 non-traumatic lower limb amputations were performed in the U.S. due to diabetes." Here are 12 healthy-feet tips for people with diabetes.

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Shaving legs pre-pedicure 

You want to give your legs a fresh shave before you head to the salon and risk judgment by your nail tech, but experts say this is an easy way to get an infection. "Shaving your legs with a razor exposes the skin and creates micro cuts which could let in infections from improperly sanitized instruments, foot tubs, and even the hands of the technician," says Dr. Sutera. To avoid this, she recommends waiting until after your pedicure to shave.

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Sharing tools

Believe it or not, some salons don't properly sanitize—or even wash!—their tools in between customers. That's why experts recommend bringing your own so you know they're clean—buff blocks, nail file, clippers, scissors, nippers, etc. "Unsterilized, shared tools can increase your risk for toenail fungus, foot fungus, as well as blood-borne infections, like hepatitis and HIV," warns Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles. "Just because the salon says that they sterilize their equipment, you need to see the sealed, sterile package with the brown dot or stripe that develops during the sterilization process."

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Soaking

According to Jacob Wynes, DPM, assistant professor in the department of orthopaedics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine & Foot and Ankle Surgery, the simple act of soaking your feet can lead to fluctuations in moisture balance as well as fissuring, which is a known cause of cellulitis or deep-skin infection, especially in patients who are prone to leg swelling. He recommends avoiding prolonged soaking, particularly if you are prone to dry skin.

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People might experience a little bit of stinging, she admits, particularly after the application is complete and they first open their eyes. Richardson tries to alleviate that with fans and the light spray from a nebulizer.

“Another problem the clients have is when their eyes are closed, but then their phone goes off,” she says. “They get an email or they get a text, and they want to open their eyes to see what’s going on. Of course, your eyes are going to sting.”

But before any of that, Richardson does her best to make sure they won’t have any reaction to the adhesive she uses, which is similar to the glue surgeons use on skin to suture wounds. At other salons, you can ask to see the adhesive, to make sure it’s meant for eyelashes (not nails!) and doesn’t contain formaldehyde, which is an allergen. Those with sensitive skin can spot-test the adhesive behind the ear or in the armpit, though that’s still not a 100 percent guarantee against a reaction.

RELATED: What you didn't know about your eyelashes 

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9 Weird Things You Didn’t Know About Your Eyelashes
Yes, the only animals that have eyelashes are mammals. In many species, lashes actually perform a similar function as cats’ whiskers do.
Eyelashes are 97 percent keratin and three percent water.
The lifespan of a lash is about 90 days.
As you can likely see by looking at your own lashes, the ones on the upper lid are much fuller, with about 200 lashes total. The lower lid, on the other hand, typically only has about 100 lashes.
For most people, lashes are longer in the middle and shorter on the sides of your eyes.
Don’t freak out, but tiny mites actually live in the base of your eyelashes. According to some sources, these little critters, called Demodex, actually come out when you sleep to eat the cells shed by your lashes and keep the follicles from getting clogged.
Speaking of clogged follicles, your lashes have two glands (the Moll and the Zeis) which help keep them bacteria-free and your lash follicles un-clogged. A stopped-up lash follicle is actually what causes a sty. (Ouch!)
On average, one to five of your lashes fall out each day. And, for each one lost, it takes four-to-eight weeks for a new one to come in and grow to its full length.
Most lashes grow to an average of 10 millimeters. However, the eyelash that holds the record for being a longest somehow grew to a whopping 6.4 centimeters (or just over two-and-a-half inches).
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“If a client’s not too sure, we have a trial set, so instead of applying our basic set which is 80 strands per eye, this is 40 strands per eye,” she says.

The American Academy of Ophthamology states that in addition to allergic reactions, the main dangers lash extensions pose are trauma to the eyelid or cornea (like a tweezer to the eye, yow), infection, and temporary or permanent loss of lashes.

To prevent infection, the AAO advises people to look for signs that all the equipment being used is sanitized.

“You don’t want to see the tweezers just lying around the table,” Richardson says. They should be in sterilizing machines or soaking in a disinfecting solution.

You still need to take some care after you leave the salon, too. “It takes about 48 hours for the adhesive to completely cure, so if you get wet, the water gets in the eye and that also stings,” Richardson warns. She tells clients not to work out or do anything else that will make them sweat.

RELATED: What your salon doesn't want its customers to know 

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YOU ARE ALWAYS AT RISK

Podiatrist Dr. Robert Spalding, author of "Death by Pedicure," states that "at this time, an estimated one million unsuspecting clients walk out of their chosen salon with infections -- bacterial, viral and fungal." And no matter which salon you go to, there is always a risk of infection. He claims that in his research "75 percent of salons in the United States are not following their own state protocols for disinfections," which includes not mixing their disinfectant solutions properly on a daily basis, not soaking their instruments appropriately, and using counterfeit products to reduce costs (for example Windex substituted for Barbicide), says the doctor. And the problem is that there is no way to really "verify an instrument has been properly soaked and sterilized," without watching the process.

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THEY DON'T TURN AWAY CUSTOMERS AWAY

Like most businesses, most nail salons won't turn away paying costumers. Which means that people who are sick, have nail infections or foot fungus are being worked on next to you instead of being referred to an appropriate medical professional.

Dr. Spalding says that the greatest danger of the nail salon is "The transmission of infection from one client to another." And with "millions of people whose immune systems are compromised by diabetes, HIV, cancer, hepatitis and other infective organisms" booking services offered in nail salons, many are dangerously susceptible to infection, warns the doctor.

THEY SWAP AND DILUTE BOTTLES

In her long history as a nail technician, celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi, owner of Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spas in New York City, says she has heard of many salons filling expensive lotion bottles with a cheap generic lotion. That way the salons can charge you more for the manicure by claiming to use prestige products, but in reality are just deceiving you.

Similarly, she says that some salons will dilute nail polish bottles that have become clumpy from old age or from too much air exposure with nail polish remover. This action compromises the quality of the polish, which will make the formula chip easier once on your nails. To ensure the life of your color and to protect any possible germ spreading, tote your own bottles.

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JUST BECAUSE THERE IS NO BLOOD, DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVEN'T BEEN CUT

"Breaks in the skin can be microscopic or highly visible," says Dr. Spalding. They can either come in with the client via "cuts, scratches, hangnails, bitten nails, insect bites, paper cuts, split cuticles -- or be created in the salon," he says. "Nail techs using callus-cutting tools and nail nippers, files, cuticle pushers, and electric burrs and drills, can and do scratch and nick skin," sometimes drawing blood and sometimes not. But just because no blood is visible, doesn't mean these "portals of entry" aren't susceptible to infective organisms, the doctor advises.

If you've ever had your nails filed and it momentarily feels "too hot in the corner for even a second," then you've had the surface layer of your skin broken -- leaving it open for infection.

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ALL COSTS ARE NOT INCLUDED

Some salons will try to keep certain added costs a secret, says Choi. They try and up charge you for "nail strengtheners or base coats" and won't tell you until it's time to check out, she says. A quality nail salon will include all costs in the advertised price of the service, says Choi. So make sure to ask if all costs are included before soaking your hands or feet.

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THEY AREN'T TALKING ABOUT YOU

Some narcissists or paranoid customers might think that nail technicians are talking about them when they speak to each other in other languages across the room, but they aren't. Apparently they don't care to share with each other how lovely your nail beds are or how gross your big toe is. "In general, they mostly gossip about their family and friends and the shows they watched last night," says Choi.

 

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NOT ALL DISINFECTING SOLUTIONS ARE 100 PERCENT EFFECTIVE

"Some infective microorganisms are easy to kill [and] some are not," says the doctor. And unfortunately, he has seen "industry-wide confusion about the definition of the term 'sterilize.'"

He says many nail techs think their instruments are sterilized, when, in fact, they "have no clue," because not all disinfectant solutions are powerful enough to kill all viruses. Therefore, when nail techs aren't informed of costumers' pre-existing medical conditions, they don't know how to properly disinfect for particular viruses. "These are medical situations," says the doctor, which manicure and pedicure-licensed technicians aren't trained for -- it's not in their job description and isn't their fault as they are "neither schooled nor licensed to work in the presence of blood or to maintain a surgically sterile environment," says the doctor.

 

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AN AUTOCLAVE IS THE ONLY SAFE BET FOR STERILIZATION

Many salons use Barbicide, UV light "sterilizer" boxes, or other chemical solutions to disinfect their tools, which is legal and standard, but not totally effective at killing all bacteria and infection. The only solution that works completely is an autoclave, a machine used to sterilize equipment and supplies using high pressure and steam, "which kills 100 percent of all infective organisms," says Dr. Spalding. But currently, only two states (Texas and Iowa) require autoclaves in nail salons by law, which means that "less than one percent of salons" use them regularly, he warns.

How can you find out if your salon is using an autoclave so that you're a 100 percent protected? First, ask the salon manager how they disinfect their tools and then look for the "color change pouches that the instruments are prepared in," says the doctor. The color changes on the bag once correct sterilization conditions have been met. This color change indicates that the object inside the package has been processed. Autoclave pouches are therefore sealed and should be opened in front of you.

 

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WHEN YOU SHAVE MATTERS

You shouldn't shave before getting a pedicure, says Choi, as pedicurists do not care if you have hair on your legs. Also, shaving your legs makes you more prone to infection as newly shaved legs have open pores (and often tiny nicks you can't see) that are susceptible to infectious diseases. So don't be wary of showing off some stubble at the salon, she says.

 

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YOU DON'T NEED YOUR CALLUSES REMOVED

Many salons will try and talk you into callous removal, as it is usually an additional service and charge. But Skyy Hadley, celebrity manicurist and owner of the As "U" Wish Nail Spa, says it is not always necessary. "If you're an athlete then you should never remove your calluses as these actually help level your performance. If you are not an athlete, you should have your calluses removed with a deep soak and scrub once they become thick and uncomfortable," she says.

If you do opt for callous removal, always choose scrubbing or a chemical remover. Never allow your nail technician to cut or shave the skin off your feet. "Cutting is cutting," and "not recommended," says Choi. Not to mention, the more you cut, the thicker the calluses will grow back, she advises.

 

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SOME TOOLS CAN'T BE SANITIZED

You can only put metal tools in the autoclave, says Choi. And as we stated before, only an autoclave kills a 100 percent of all bacteria and viruses. Nail salon tools like pumice stones, emery boards, nail buffers and foam toe separators need to be swapped out after each use to prevent the spread of bacteria. That's why you're best off bringing your own -- just in case the salon doesn't follow this practice. If you see any white residue on a nail file, it means it's been used on someone else.

 

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FOOTBATHS AREN'T YOUR FRIEND

"Whirlpool footbaths," though seemingly safe, are filled with city water, which may or may not be free of microbes, says the doctor and are typically difficult to clean. Even though most nail salons disinfect their tubs, researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention typically find bacteria that could cause boils and rashes in most according to the "New York Times." And it's extremely hard to bust these salons with having microbe growth, as many times salons aren't linked to the infections because boils can take as long as four months after a pedicure to develop.
 

 

By: Total Beauty

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If you want to keep your fake and real lashes intact, one absolute no-no is rubbing your eyes. Richardson goes so far as to tell potential clients that lash extensions are probably a bad idea for anyone prone to rubbing their eyes, due perhaps to seasonal allergies.

“The extensions are attached a millimeter from the lash line, so if you rub your eyes, you’re going to pull the extensions out and the natural lashes along with them,” she says.

To eliminate many of the concerns you may have about safety and sanitary conditions, go with someone experienced, trained, and licensed (as an aesthetician or cosmetologist). An experienced technician will be able to tell right away if you’re having a bad reaction to something and will figure out why.

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Cataracts are cloudy eyes and are most common in older people. Many times they can be indications of tumors or diabetes. 

Because many people don't think to put sunscreen near their eyes, skin cancer often forms around them. If you see a non-healing sore on your eyelid that may be causing your eyelashes to fall off, it could be time to consult a doctor. 
Droopy eyes on both sides may be a sign of myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disease associated with muscle weakness. Dr. Hagan explained the disease can range from mild to more serious, deadly forms. 
If your retina is inflamed because of your sensitivity to light, doctors may be concerned with HIV/AIDS. 
Droopy eyelids and differently dilated pupils may be an indication of Horner's syndrome, often associated with tumors or aneurysms.  
Oftentimes, cancer in the body may show up in the eye as well. According to Dr. Hagan, the two most common ones include lung cancer and breast cancer. 
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That’s how Richardson knew something was wrong when she gave Mary J. Blige, her client of three years, a touchup on the outer corners of her eyes.

“When she got up, she was tearing and tearing, and the under eye was puffy,” Richardson says, explaining how she deduced that the singer was actually allergic to the medical tape she was using. “I took makeup remover and wiped it, and immediately it stopped.”

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