« Go Back

Cut during manicure

Question: 

Hi. I recently went to the nail salon to get acrylic nails. While the woman was using the drill to file down the underneath of the nails, she cut me with the drill bit. It wasn't extremely deep but it was more than just a scratch and it did bleed. She put an antiseptic on my cut and continued with the service.I began to freak out because i did not remember her pulling the drill bit out of a sterile place. I also noticed she had been working on the woman beside me who had a nasty burn or scrape on her hand, and the tech did not change her gloves before touching me. Is there any way I could contract HIV from this? It's probably a stupid question but I've been worried.

Answer: 

Hi there,

We would like to start by saying that all questions we receive are valid and provide education not only to you, but to others. We value and thank you for each and every question or inquiry that we receive here at the AIDS Vancouver Helpline.

From what we gather from the question, you were asking about the risk of acquiring HIV from a nail salon drill bit while your manicurist did not visibly change their safety gloves in between clients.

With the information given, this scenario is determined to be No Risk (transmission of HIV is not possible in the given scenario). For this scenario, please consider the following:

HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on environmental surfaces), and cannot reproduce outside of a human host (1). In this circumstance, transmission is extremely unlikely if not impossible. Although your manicurist may have come into contact with their other client and then you (or vice versa), transmission through both gloves and the drill bit does not meet adequate requirements for HIV transmission (2). This is because all tools (gloves included) in the nail salon were fully exposed to oxygen which means that any HIV positive bodily fluids that may have come in contact with the tools previously, would have died before coming into contact with your skin.

HIV transmission from one person's cut to another can only occur when both cuts are extremely deep, gaping, and actively bleeding. Even if the nail technician had cuts on her hand, both cuts were minor and would not have been able to transmit HIV. Minor cuts prompt the body to respond by clotting and creating a layer of defences underneath the skin. HIV cannot pass through these defences. You are therefore not at risk of acquiring HIV through the contact of her (potential) cuts with yours.

Recommendation: No need for HIV test with the scenario provided, please refer to a physician for other health related questions.

All the best, AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Cody