AINA HAINA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Niu Valley woman's trip to the nail salon for a holiday pedicure ended with her going to an urgent clinic for medical care, prompting an investigation by state authorities.
Karin Gallagher went to Perfect Nails in the Aina Haina Shopping Center earlier this month for a pedicure. She said when the nail technician asked her if she could use a razor blade encased in a protective sheath to smooth out her feet, she agreed.
"I was under the assumption that it was safe because it was offered to me. And if it wasn't safe, it wouldn't be on the menu, so to speak," Gallagher said.
Gallagher snapped a photo of what happened next when she felt pain in her right heel.
"I looked at my foot and saw blood and a flap of skin that was hanging where it once was attached to my foot," Gallagher said.
She went to Island Urgent Care in Kahala for treatment.
"A doctor had to cut off a flap of my skin and a nurse irrigated the wound, bandaged me up," Gallagher said.
The clinic gave her a prescription for an antibiotic ointment.
State investigators with the Regulated Industries Complaints Office began an investigation of Perfect Nails salon after Hawaii News Now inquired about the case.
"Licensees in general probably should not be cutting or affecting living tissue," said Daria Loy-Goto, the state's complaints and enforcement officer, who wouldn't reveal details of this case because it's under investigation.
But she said her office is routinely frustrated because people call to ask about bad service or incidents but refuse to file complaints and won't identify the businesses involved.
"Don't be afraid to call and ask our office if they may have experienced a problem. We do respond to a lot of consumer complaints each year, and we really, really encourage folks to call," Loy-Goto said.
Sources said one issue in this case may be that the nail technician -- who was an apprentice -- was not wearing a nametag identifying her as still in training, as required by law.
"If you're paying for a service, I think that you would want to know, you want to make sure that a licensee is going to be performing it, and if it's somebody in training, you would want to know that too," Loy-Goto said.
A manager for Perfect Nails told Hawaii News Now the salon immediately apologized to Gallagher, paid her extra medical bills and has fully cooperated in the investigation.
It's the first incident of this kind in the ten years the shop has been open, employees of the salon said.
Fines for violations of rules and regulations at licenses beauty operations can range from $100 to $1,000, officials said.
Loy-Goto said nail salons customers should ask to see their nail technician's license.
"You want to verify that the person who is giving you the procedure or the service is actually licensed in the state," she said.
Gallagher, who said her wound made it difficult for her to walk for several days, described the salon staff as "very kind and apologetic and I know it was an accident."
"The fact that it happened and that it was an accident in what was supposed to be a relaxing, safe comfortable experience is what made my concern raised," Gallagher added.