Protecting yourself from Hepatitis B

Nancye Swanson does her own nails these days. Six months ago, she almost died from something she picked up at a salon.

Her skin looked yellow. Doctors told her that was a clear sign of Hepatitis B, a serious liver infection. It happened while she was getting a pedicure.

A clinical professor at UC San Diego Dr. Robert Gish said of salons, "A lot of these places use sharp instruments, and they could be re-using those."

Dr. Gish is writing a health policy for the Vietnamese government on the spread of Hepatitis B.

That's because every person born in the Asian Pacific region are at a high risk of already having it. That includes the thousands of people working in salons across the U.S. and they may not even know they are a carrier. "95 percent of people with Hepatitis B have no symptoms," Dr. Gish said. "That's the problem."

While there is no cure, a pill once a day will control it. That's what Nancye did. "I cannot believe I was that close to death," Swanson said.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself at the salon. First, make sure your salon's license is clearly posted. Scissors and clippers should be disinfected after each use and only disposable files should be used. The same goes for the pedicure bath and all suction screens in the tubs. That's where deadly bacteria gets trapped. Also, look for labels on products. If you don't see one, they could be diluted. Also, always take your own polish. These simple steps can keep you safe at the spa.

Dr. Gish also said that anyplace where you can get tattoos, ear piercing, body piercing, and even dental offices can also put you at risk.

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