Levels of “Clean” – Sanitation, Disinfection, Sterilization

Black light shows microbe contamination on every surface touched!

Microblading and other PMU demands high levels of infection control.

As an educator of several advanced safety training programs, I would like comment on the topic of aseptic protocols. ALL salons (or tattoo establishments, in some states) need to strive for perfect infection control – it’s not achievable, of course, but the closer you are, the better. The cost is simply not worth one, single, solitary infection.

First, this is a new field. It’s an ancient art, but permanent makeup is sweeping the land with “brows on fleek” Instagram swiftness. There are no long-standing proven protocols for safety and infection control. Therefore, we are responsible for writing them…and following them…ourselves.

There are three levels of “Clean” –

SANITATION is “removal of gross debris” according to the CDC. This means physically removing anything that might impair disinfection. Scrubbing something with a stiff brush under running water is said to remove 99% of all pathogens…but does not take care of micro cracks, nooks and crannies. This needs to be done BEFORE either disinfection or sterilization to prevent any area from being physically occluded.

DISINFECTION is the “kill of pathogens and spores affected by the particular disinfecting agent.” Not all disinfectants have the same kill rate. None are effective against every pathogen. They all must be done in STRICT accordance with the manufacturer’s labels. It must be mixed FRESH, and kept clean and uncontaminated. I recommend dilution with distilled water (tap water can have so much chemical saturation it can affect the efficacy of the disinfectant) so simply open a new jug of distilled water, pour out a few ounces and pour in the amount recommended per the label. Pour from this to fill your disinfectant tray, and change it out throughout the day as needed. (many implements, many change-outs).

STERILIZATION is the ultimate level of clean – it is defined as “annihilation of all microbial life” – bacteria, fungus, virus and spores. It is the only verifiable level of “clean” – your pouches with indicators on them will tell you whether or not the cycle was completed properly. Spore tests conducted monthly will reassure you of sterilization.

Some things to think about:

There are more “super bugs” out there than ever before. MRSA has left the hospitals and is now called “CA-MRSA” (Community Associated MRSA) and the strains of staph that have evolved are resistant to first line antibiotic drugs. Herpes is very common. C-diff is present nearly every time someone takes antibiotics. All of these are present and viable on the skin for up to 48 hours before a lesion is manifested.

The cost per service of perfect infection control is nominal over many services. You should be charging for your time, your talent and the materials you use: high grade pigments that are proven to be stable, quality needles and cartridges, good hand pieces, excellent numbing products. Why wouldn’t you ALSO spend a few dollars making sure you offer the “cleanest clean” you can?

This is NOT the time to cut corners! You can buy cheap table covers….or inexpensive head bands, etc. but you don’t want to cheap out on infection control. Better to charge more and have absolute confidence that your clients AND you are protected from carrying infectious pathogens home.

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