Biofilms are a collective of one or more types of microorganisms that can grow on many different surfaces.
Microorganisms that form biofilms include bacteria, fungi and collection of organisms. One common example of a biofilm is dental plaque, a slimy buildup of bacteria that forms on the surfaces of teeth or the slimy ring around the end of a faucet, or the ooze that comes up when clearing a hairball from your shower drain.
Biofilm usually begins to form when a free-swimming bacterium attaches to a surface.
Swimming microorganisms can be classified into three groups:
(1) bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Salmonella
(2) archaea such as Halobacterium and Methanocaldococcus
(3) eukaryotes such as Euglena and Paramecium
Cleaning then disinfection is the only way to rid of Biofilm in your drains. Due to their protective matrix…bleach, shower cleaners, or any antimicrobial chemicals poured down the drain cannot penetrate the Biofilm to kill all the bacteria.
Shower hoses, sink spickets and faucets can potentially harbor biofilm. Because of this, there is a wide range of superficial fungal infections which are caused by Biofilm including, but not limited to keratitis, onychomycosis, allergy and sinusitis along with more serious illnesses such as pneumonia. Especially in immunocompromised persons.
Sinks are an ideal reservoir for bacterial contamination. The basic designs of the drain flow contributes to unwanted microbial growth. this makes them prime suspect for producing infections.
Plumbing fixtures contain standing water. The small reservoir of water acts as a physical barrier to prevent off gassing sewage odor from entering the room where the sink is located. Unfortunately, this same reservoir creates the perfect humid breeding conditions needed for bacterial colonies to grow.
How does this affect you in your Salon environment? Think about it…..
We go to the sink to clean and scrub the debris off our foot files/tools many times a day.
The particles are being washed down the drain multiple times per day.
These particles then become part of the Biofilm which is sitting in the drain pipe.
In addition, warm water is ran down the drain causing the biofilm to loosen. Upon loosening, it produces vapors coming up through the drain which….you are breathing in!
In 2008 when I was first introduced to Biofilm, it was through the NASP level 1 course. (I like to give credit where credit is due).
I don’t know if they continue to teach on this topic, however, the information although very basic has helped me in the following years.
When I took on the Micrylium products, it was through my rep, where I learned more specific details. It was where I learned the importance of ultrasonic cleaners.
The story shared with me through my rep, really resonated.
They were called into a Company which works with Medical Devices. Many of their employees they noticed, suffered with scratchy throat, dry cough, dry eyes, runny nose along with additional minor symptoms.
They took action to investigate and brought in air conditioning experts to see if maybe bad air was being aired through their ventilation. They brought in drywall experts to investigate the problems associated with infected drywall. And, in the end they brought in the chemist and leaders of Micrylium who are the experts in infectious control.
Micrylium realized the workers were doing the same thing we as Nail Specialist do. Always going to the sink and scrubbing their tools and implements.
The warm water they use with soap to scrub was activating the biofilm in the drain. It would loosen the biofilm causing vapors to come up through the drain. Vapors which the workers were breathing in. The same type of vapors, our Technicians breath in.
HOW DO WE MANAGE THIS?
THE FIRST STEP IN MANAGING IT, IT RECOGNIZING THIS IS A PROBLEM
I’ve spoken with many Technicians who simply want to I ignore Biofilm is in existence. Hey…no problem, it’s your life. However, it’s important to realize, this problem doesn’t not discriminate. It exists everywhere. Our homes, our work, hotels, restrooms … all over the world.
I personally have an allergy to mold and mildew. I can tell instantly if I walk in a place loaded with bacteria. My head immediately feels like I have a head cold and I get a headache.
There are many different ultrasonic machines available. The best advice I could probably offer is not purchasing one which is specifically designed for jewelry. Which, is what is used to clean jewelry.
I can only speak for the one we carry…it is large enough to support many tools including the length of our AngelFeet file. It has up to 10 minute active time and it has a heater. Although, heat is not required for our implements.
In addition, it’s important to know from your Mfg., what solution is acceptable. If you use the wrong kind of solution it could very possibly blowup your machine.
The harsh reality is, whatever procedures you have for sanitizing…you MUST clean first. Cleaning our tools as we know it, is putting us at risk for ailments stated earlier in this blog.
A couple of questions I would be asking at this time is;
- How is COVID in relation to washing as we do and inhaling biofilm vapors
- Is there something better or safer I can be doing
- Does the initial added expense far out way the long term hazards
I hope I was able to offer more insight and even answer some of your questions regarding biofilm.
It exist yet we can control our exposure…for a better quality of life.