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UK’s health inspectors warned about dangerous beauty treatments

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The UK’s health inspectors have been warned about the potential dangers of new and often extreme and unregulated beauty treatments offered in spas and salons.

At a conference hosted by the Chartered Institute of Health in October, Wendy Nixon, a health and safety consultant, raised issues with a specific beauty treatment that spas are looking to import from China which involves full body immersion in a tank of small eels.

Nixon said that the treatment could cause severe medical problems, particularly with people who wear loose-fitting swimwear.

“In one case a stray eel found it’s way through the man’s genitals and into his kidney, and he ended up needing a three hour operation,” said Nixon. “This is the sort of procedure that is coming our way.”

The beauty industry has started to turn its back on fish pedicures after concerns were raised about the wellbeing of the animals, though the treatments have now moved on to be offered at pop up sites such as festivals and fairgrounds, according to the CIEH journal Environmental Health News.

Another growing concern is the amount of unregulated, unlicensed teeth-whitening procedures now available on the market. A major cause for concern is that beauty therapists are being sold expensive training courses but are not told that teeth whitening procedures can only be performed by dentists or dental hygienists. Salons are also allowed to sell a teeth-whitening kit, prompting concern that the procedure is being carried out illegally by unqualified therapists.

Health inspectors have also raised the issue of hair-straightening products imported into the UK that have been found to contain concentrations of formaldehyde above legal limits. Once a client has had a product applied to the hair every time they apply heat, formaldehyde vapours are released and could potentially lead to long-term health problems.

A spokesperson for CIEH said that it was vital that new health and beauty treatments be scrutinised by health professionals. “The CIEH is concerned when any new beauty treatment is being offered without a proper risk assessment to consider its impact on the public or the animals involved,” said the spokesperson. “Without such risk assessment, it is not possible to provide official guidance or advice that can help inform the public and health professionals.”

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The UK’s health inspectors have been warned about the potential dangers of new and often extreme and unregulated beauty treatments offered in spas and salons.


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