Poor hygiene standards can potentially lead to a large number of viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Therefore a professional electrologist should adhere to the strictest of cleanliness and hygiene procedures and standards. The following are useful guidelines:
Ensure all equipment that can be (e.g. tweezers, chuck caps) is sterilised after use. Have a plentiful supply of these items so that each client has newly sterilised equipment.
Items must be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed before sterilisation. Always wash your hands and apply gloves before handling sterilised items.
Any items that cannot be sterilised (e.g. needle holders, trolleys, machines, lamps, kidney bowls) should be disinfected.
Any item or surface that the electrologist has touched during the course of a treatment should be wiped down with purpose-made disinfectant between treatments.
An ultraviolet cabinet is not considered a suitable method of sterilisation, as items would need to be continuously turned to ensure all surfaces are exposed to the rays . However, pre-sterilised instruments can be stored in an ultraviolet cabinet before and after sterilising to prolong sterility. This is especially helpful in busy electrolysis clinics.
A highly recommended method of sterilisation is the autoclave. Although these are an investment, they are low maintenance and inexpensive to run. The only part that is likely to need replacing is the gasket, which should last 600 cycles.
When purchasing an autoclave, we recommend a bench-top version. A non-vacuum version means that instruments won’t need to be wrapped in pouches; it must be large enough to position items so that they do not touch each other when being sterilised. The CE mark indicates that the model complies with the latest Medical Devices Directive.
When using the autoclave, always use distilled or de-ionised water. Water should be filled to the marked rim and replaced for each use. Prior to sterilisation, always scrub items thoroughly in hot soapy water, to remove any skin and hair debris then rinse in water and dry fully before placing in the autoclave. Be sure to place the basket on top of the metal ‘V’ support provided.
A TST strip should be used to visually verify that the correct Temperature, Steam and Time have been achieved to ensure a successful sterilisation cycle, indicated by the yellow dot on the TST strip turning to purple.
Ensure the depressurisation valve is open before opening the lid – the steam symbol will be displayed. Never try to remove the lid before the pressure rise indicator on the lid has dropped, confirming that the chamber is no longer pressurised. The sterilised implements will be very hot, so allow to cool before handling!
SANITISATION & CLEANING
Sanitisation is simply the process by which implements or items, including hands, are cleaned or washed using hand-hot water and liquid detergent. In the case of implements, sanitisation is in preparation for sterilisation. Anything that has been sanitised must be thoroughly rinsed and dried to ensure soap suds, which may carry suspended bacteria, are removed.
Always wash your hands in full view of the client, before and after every treatment. It is recommended not to use nail brushes when washing hands, as these can act as a vehicle for cross-contamination and can damage the skin around the nails. A disposable paper towel should always be used to dry hands to avoid cross-contamination.
GENERAL HEALTH AND SAFETY AND HYGIENE
Always wear gloves throughout the treatment. These should be changed if they become torn or damaged and hands should be washed.
If the electrologist is wearing gloves, an electrolysis needle is more likely to bend than penetrate the vinyl. However, it is possible for the needle to penetrate gloves and in the case of a sharps injury (aka. needle stick injury), when a person has been pricked with a used needle or sharp instrument, the following steps should be taken:
- Immediately encourage bleeding at the injury site.
- Immerse under warm water as soon as possible and wash thoroughly with antibacterial soap.
- Dress the area to cover and protect the wound.
- If continuing with treatment, apply a fresh pair of disposable gloves before proceeding.
- Any blood waste should be disposed of in a yellow clinical waste bin and all injuries should be recorded in an accident book kept at the salon.
- Electrologists can visit their doctor for further advice.
Electrologists should be vaccinated against the Hepatitis B virus. This involves a course of three injections, the first and second a month apart and the third six months after the first. This will protect against the virus for up to 10 years. Some GPs offer this vaccination at no cost; the nature of electrolysis should be explained to the GP as wherever needles are used there is a risk of cross-contamination and they need to understand.
There are no vaccinations to protect against Hepatitis C or the AIDS virus. A client carrying such a virus may not always inform you of this fact; indeed, they may not be aware of it. This further emphasises the need for scrupulous attention to hygiene standards.