A Toronto woman is warning others about the dangers of "revolving door" nail salons after she ended up in hospital with a serious infection just hours after getting a pedicure at a local nail salon.

Kristine Galka was at a salon in the west end of the city when she got a cut on her heel. Within 36 hours, she was in the emergency room receiving intravenous treatment.

"I walked in with two healthy feet, and I walked out with an infection I can't even pronounce," Kristine Galka told CTV Toronto on Tuesday.

Galka was visiting a salon in Bloor West Village in early August when she was injured.

Galka said her feet were in a foot bath and the nail technician was scrubbing the inside of her left foot with a pumice stone, when she felt a sharp pain from the hard scrubbing.

She looked down and saw blood. The technician put a bandage on it and finished her pedicure.

When the pedicure was over, Galka confronted the owner of the nail salon, asking for an explanation, but said she was ignored. She paid and left, expecting her foot would heal.

By the time Galka got home her foot had begun to swell and throb. Fearing infection, she went to St. Joseph's Health Centre where she was given antibiotics.

The next day, she noticed pus in her infection and went back to the hospital, where she was told she had a serious infection and put on IV medication. Doctors had to open the cut and scrape out the infection, leaving a hole that still hasn't healed.

Three weeks after the incident, Galka has had several procedures on her foot and still can't wear shoes. She's had to return to the hospital for cleanings, and will have to see a plastic surgeon once it heals.

"These nail salons are like a revolving door. One person sits down, the next person gets up, another one sits down. How are they managing to keep this clean when people are moving out so quickly?" Galka said.

The salon she went to was inspected by Toronto Public Health shortly after Galka's visit, and received a conditional pass due to cleanliness issues. Since the incident, the salon reviewed its cleaning procedure, and has received a full pass.

Tips to stay safe at salons

Most infections occur when nail salons fail to clean their equipment properly, or reuse disposable tools.

  • Try to arrive early for appointments, and spend the extra time monitoring the cleaning practices. Watch how foot spas are cleaned. They should be disinfected after each customer.
  • Make sure you check the salon for a licence, and ask for new, single-use files and buffers.
  • Don't shave right before a pedicure, as small cuts on the legs increase the chances of infection.
  • Look up the salon on bodysafe.ca, Toronto Public Health's online inspection and disclosure system. The city-run site provides information on hair salons, tattoo parlours, piercing studios and nail salons.

If you have concerns, Toronto Public Health asks residents to contact the city and request an inspection. This year, Toronto Public Health has investigated nine cleanliness-related complaints at nail salons.

With files from CTV Toronto's Consumer Reporter Pat Foran