Possibility of transmission of blood-borne viruses during needle microdermabrasion


A series of needlestick injuries associated with needle microdermabrasion are being investigated by Public Health England (PHE). Needle microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that, in recent years, has become widely available in beauty salons and cosmetic surgery premises throughout the UK.

Needle microdermabrasion is undertaken using proprietary devices that typically comprise a handset with a detachable needle-studded cylindrical roller, and integrated tubing that delivers cosmetic solutions onto the needle cylinder. By holding the handset, beauticians apply mechanical pressure to roll the needle cylinder onto the skin of the face and body of clients, creating multiple small abrasions. Currently, there are no regulations governing the use of needle microdermabrasion systems.

Use of needle microdermabrasion systems can result in bleeding and generation of serous fluid at the site where the device is applied. As such, there is a risk of transmission of blood borne viruses (hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and HIV) to staff members should needlestick injuries occur, or to clients through cross contamination.

Between March and May 2016, three staff members working in beauty salons in the North West of England experienced needlestick injuries while providing needle microdermabrasion. All exposed individuals were using the same needle microdermabrasion device. Needlestick injuries occurred during the process of disassembling the device after use on clients. All three exposed individuals subsequently tested negative for blood borne viruses.

As part of the investigation, PHE is working with Environmental Health Officers, and the device manufacturer, to recommend design modifications to reduce the risk of needlestick injury and cross-contamination, and to support development of improved training and infection control guidance for providers offering needle microdermabrasion.

This is a real risk and it is good that it has been picked up for investigation, as this cosmetic treatment is apparently gaining in popularity and has become widely established on the High Street and as a DIY treatment.

If an infection risk exists, operators be at risk in addition to end-users (clients) by some cross-infection route. Additionally, the disposal of various swabs and dressing materials, and needle sets, will present a risk for waste handlers. Presently, this is unregulated and is clearly in need of some regulatory guidance from PHS, CIEH and the Local Authorities.



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