Foot protection

In January, a new law gave the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology the power to immediately put on probation any salon violating state hygiene rules for pampering patrons' feet. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

SACRAMENTO -- In a crackdown under a new state law, inspectors have issued citations to five Southern California salons, putting them on probation for clipping toenails and soaking feet in unsanitary conditions, officials announced today.

Salons in Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Buena Park and Santa Ana are among 10 cited by inspectors from the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Five citations were issued in Northern California. Each salon was also fined $500.

In January, a new law gave the board the power to immediately put on probation any salon violating state hygiene rules for pampering patrons' feet. Previously, a hearing was required before a suspension could be imposed.

State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) wrote the law because of concern about cases in which people getting pedicures also received foot infections. The bacterial infections can affect the body's immune system and lead to more serious health issues.

"This is not something to scoff at," Yee said. "This rule requiring 10 minutes of cleaning can save lives."

The board is focusing on the use of small whirlpool baths in which the feet are soaked as part of a pedicure. Many customers shave their legs before a pedicure, and bacteria may enter the body through small cuts, Underwood said.

The state requires that whirlpools and other surfaces used in foot treatments be cleaned with disinfectant for 10 minutes between customers. Yee said that foot spas have become so popular that some salons may be tempted to hurry the process so more customers can be served.

One woman died of complications from a foot infection in Salinas about two years ago, according to Kristy Underwood, the board's executive officer. She said a woman also died in Texas.

"It's important for consumers to be aware of the danger," Underwood said.

Once a salon's license is suspended, officials may immediately stay the suspension and impose a one-year probation period during which the salon is reinspected four times and pedicurists must undergo retraining in health and safety rules.

Salons on probation must document their cleaning practices and records are subject to inspection.

The state has 18 inspectors fanning out to evaluate conditions in the 40,000 California salons that offer nail services, according to Kevin Flanagan, a spokesman for the board.

"California's consumers have a right to clean, safe service when they sit down for a pedicure," said Carrie Lopez, director of the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

The Southern California salons whose citations were announced today are Laser Nails in Huntington Beach, KC Nails in Anaheim, Top Hair Salon in Buena Park, Super Hair & Nails in Huntington Beach and LyLy Hair and Nails in Huntington Beach.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com