Friday, January 13, 2012

Fingers and Toes

The minute my friend told me, bells and whistles went off in my brain!  She said manicures and pedicures could cause some serious health issues for me because of my lupus and also to anyone who's not careful.  The mention of Hepatitis C is what set the alarms off and gave me pause... Because I knew little about it.

Call me high maintenance, but giving up my mani/pedi guilty pleasure was not an option.  Aside from the fact that 90 minutes at the nail salon can turn my whole day around-- (Seriously, a good mani/pedi really can and if you don't know I highly recommend you try it.)  It is also a necessity, or at very least, extremely helpful when you have sore, swollen joints from arthritis like I do.

So I investigated the potential problem further.  Hepatitis C can be transmitted through unsterilized instruments at nail salons as well as through tattoo and body piercings instruments --  Call me chicken but tats and piercings will never be a problem for me-- I'm just sayin.  These are in addition to the more common causes like unsterilized needles from vaccines (more common in lesser developed countries) as well as the usual things we've probably all read about like intravenous drug use and promiscuity.

I'm a clean freak and so is my nail salon owner, plus, I already take my own equipment with me-- But heads up people!  Although salons are legally required to sterilize all instruments after each use, pay close attention and make sure everything is squeaky clean and files are new.

But still, I investigated further and was able to ask Dr. Douglas Dieterich, M.D. at New York City's Mount Sinai Medical Center about "Hep C" and about it's possible connection to lupus since I've heard of "autoimmune hepatitis".  Here's what he had to say...

Q. I've heard that Hepatitis C and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus have similar symptoms.  What are they and is there any link between the two diseases?
A. There is no link between the two diseases.  The only symptom in common is fatigue.

Q. Can Hep C trigger a Lupus flair or vice-a-versa?
A. One of the treatments for Hepatitis C, interferon, can trigger a flair up in lupus.

Q. Can lupus medications like Methrotrexate lead to Hepatitis C?
A. No, but they can cause some liver scarring.

Q. Is there a vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C?  Or are any in the works?
A. There is no vaccine for Hep C.  Research continues on developing one but nothing has shown significant promise yet.

Q. What type of doctor specializes in Hepatitis C?  Should I include this speciality in my medical team to oversea my health?  If so, how often should I be checked?
A. A specialist in hepatology, or liver diseases, treats Hepatitis C.  You do not need to include a liver disease specialist in your ream of health care providers unless you test positive for a liver disease.  however, you should speak to your primary care physician about being tested for Hepatitis C, as it has no symptoms in most cases.

Q. What is your best advice for patients with lupus and related diseases to be proactive about their liver wellness?
A. People with lupus should eat a healthy diet, avoid weight gain, stay away from refined sugars, and drink alcohol in moderation.

Perhaps this sounds extreme or slightly alarmist but I prefer to be safe than sorry.   In Dr. Dieterich's case, he knew exactly when and how he got the disease...

I prefer to be safe than sorry and appreciate Dr. Dieterich answering my questions.  

Until next time...
Joanna J aka Lemon Aid
Photo Credit: © Dmitry Sunagatov -


  1. The fact you even took the time to post on this is great!! I personally do NOT visit salons for nails as I simply don't like my fingers and toes touched by anyone, loved or stranger, so there is no need for mani pedi for this girl. HOWEVER, that said, this is constructive information for anyone who does not know the difference between fear mongering and being informed. THis is a great post and well stated. Hugs. T

  2. Wow I never really thought about it....I don't get put one or two a year but still the changes are high....great post and interview!