For the past year we’ve been exploring the frontiers of esthetics regulation to determine how best to protect the public without unnecessarily limiting the scope of practice of estheticians.
While regulation of esthetics is an ongoing issue, we’d like to shift gears and discuss something so deceptively simple to public health and safety that we neglect to mention it often enough.
Wash your hands
That’s right. That’s pretty much the message. Wash your hands.
“Thorough” hand washing is a requirement for cosmetologists in all four fields of practice under Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 817-015-0030(1). You can use soap and water or “…other alternative hand-washing products, such as gel, aerosol spray, foam, or pre-packaged hand wipes, immediately before and after serving each client to prevent cross contamination and/or transmission of body fluids, infections or exposure to service-related wastes or chemicals.”
You’ve probably already heard that frequent hand washing helps to prevent everything from the flu to the common cold. Hand washing also helps to prevent spreading any other bug or microbe out there that could do harm to you or your clients.
For example, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an apparently new microbe causing a lot of concern among public health officials. A Texas woman died from MRSA after she received a pedicure, but MRSA has also been spread during hospital surgeries and in other health care settings.
MRSA is thought to be passed by local contact and often spread from hands to nose or other open membranes, according to a report from the Health and Safety Committee of the National-Interstate Council of State Boards of Cosmetology (NIC).
Thankfully, Oregon has been spared headline-grabbing infection outbreaks that have occurred in California and other states. However, several individual cases of bacterial skin infections have occurred in this state that may or may not have been connected to cosmetology facilities, so it’s not like we can let down our guard.
And while there are many state requirements established to protect the safety and health of all Oregonians, the hand washing requirement is simple and easy to remember and follow. This fall and winter the agency will be focusing our education efforts on revisiting safety and infection control requirements to keep the negative headlines at bay and continue to keep Oregonians safe and healthy.