Health Advisories and Notifications
Plasma Pens (also known as fibroblast devices) – In November 2018, Health Canada released a safety advisory outlining the risks of plasma pens. Plasma pens are small medical devices that heat a targeted area on the skin for cosmetic purposes. Risks of the device include pain, swelling, sagging of skin, ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity, hyperpigmentation (dark spots on skin) and burns. Health Canada is focused on sale and distribution of these devices, and the Saskatchewan Health Authority monitors the use these devices and safety of personal services facilities in Alberta.
The public is advised to avoid the use of plasma pens in spas, clinics, or home environments, as they may pose health risks. Personal service facility operators are advised to discontinue use of these instruments, as they pose a risk to client safety and health.
For more information, see the Government of Canada Issue Alert: Plasma pens are not authorized in Canada and may pose health risks
Invasive Personal Service Facilities
An invasive personal service facility offers services that are intended to break the skin or pass through the mucous membrane (e.g. eyes, inside the nose or mouth). Examples of these types of procedures include, but are not limited to: body piercing, tattooing, micropigmentation, beading, branding, electrolysis, scarification, stretching, microblading and tattoo removal.
How Facilities that Offer Invasive Personal Services Are Regulated
The Health Hazard Regulations require personal service facilities to be operated:
- in a hygienic manner; and
- in a manner that prevents or minimizes the risk of transmission of disease to clients and/or individuals providing personal services.
Public health officers conduct unannounced inspections of known invasive personal service facilities at least annually.
Health Risks Associated with Invasive Personal Services
Bloodborne and other infections may be transmitted through personal service procedures to clients and/or to persons providing personal services. The type of health risk depends on the nature of the service, e.g. surface treatments vs. procedures that puncture the skin. Exposure through skin penetration or mucous membrane exposure to blood or body fluids may result in a variety of infections, including but not limited to: Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Herpes Simplex Virus as well as fungal and bacterial infections of the skin and blood.
Poorly operated personal service facilities may lead to the spread of disease(s) or infection through unsanitary conditions, improper design/materials and/or cross contamination by instruments/equipment. The persons providing personal services and/or clients in the premises may also spread diseases or infections.
How You Can Educate Yourself Before Agreeing to Any Invasive Personal Service Procedure
- The service area is separated from other businesses and/or living quarters by partitions or walls;
- The facility is clean and in good repair;
- There is a hand sink, easily accessible from each work station, and equipped with liquid soap and paper towels for staff use;
- Needles and sterile equipment are opened in front of the customers (to assure sterility); and
- Staff wear clean clothing, wash their hands between customers, wear single use gloves, and refrain from eating, smoking or drinking while providing services.
- Will the operator provide a copy of a public health inspection report conducted within the last 12 months?
- Does the facility use sterile, single-use, disposable needles?
- If the operator uses reusable equipment, e.g. needle receiving tubes, clamps, forceps, calipers, does he/she have an autoclave for sterilizing reusable equipment?
- Is an antiseptic solution used to disinfect the skin surface?
- Are disposable ink-caps used or is the needle dipped directly into the ink bottle contaminating the ink?
- Are tube or pump containers or single use spatulas used to dispense lotions, creams or waxes?
Only if and when you are comfortable with what you learned about a facility should you agree to an invasive personal service procedure at that facility.
Non-invasive Personal Service Facilities
A non-invasive personal service facility offers services that are not intended to break the skin or pass through the mucous membrane (e.g. eyes, inside the nose or mouth). Examples of these procedures include, but are not limited to, manicures, pedicures, tanning, esthetics, and hair cutting/styling.
How Facilities that Offer Non-invasive Personal Services Are Regulated
The Health Hazard Regulations:
- Require personal service facilities to be operated in a hygienic manner that prevents or minimizes the risk of transmission of disease to clients and/or individuals providing personal services;
- Prohibit operators of tanning facilities from permitting youth under 18 years of age from using UV tanning equipment in a tanning facility unless they have a prescription for UV tanning from a physician; and
- Require tanning facility operators to register with the health authority.
Public health officers will investigate complaints about a personal service facility offering non-invasive services.
Health Risks Associated with Non-invasive Personal Service Facilities
Any procedure with the potential to break the skin’s surface or pass through the mucous membrane can result in an infection or injury. These health risks will vary depending on the nature of the service, the type of tools and equipment used, the health status of the clients and service providers, and the implementation of infection control procedures. For example, tools typically used during pedicures may include nail clippers, cuticle removers, nail files, and callus removers. While not intentional, these tools can potentially break the skin which in turn may result in an infection. Furthermore, bacteria in re-circulating footbaths, if not properly cleaned and disinfected after every use, may lead to infection.
Concerns or inquiries about personal service facilities may be directed to the public health inspector in your area.