Personal Care Services: Health Hazards

Health written question – answered on 23rd June 2008.

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Photo of Phyllis Starkey Phyllis Starkey Labour, Milton Keynes South West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the health risks of (a) botox treatment, (b) dental whitening, (c) spray tanning, (d) ultra-violet tanning, (e) tattooing, (f) piercing, (g) acupuncture and (h) electrolysis for (i) staff and (ii) customers of establishments carrying out such treatments.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Minister of State (Regional Affairs) (South West), The Minister of State, Department of Health

Very occasionally patients who receive botulinum toxin injections in the forehead experience a drooping of the eyelids or eyebrows, although this is temporary and will resolve itself when the effects of botulinum toxin wear off. Double vision or blurred vision can occur in rare cases.

In respect of dental whitening, the use of tooth whitening products containing over 0.1 per cent. hydrogen peroxide may carry risks to health these are the irritation of the soft tissues in the mouth and in the gastric tract if swallowed. Conditions such as a pre-existing tissue injury or the concurrent use of alcohol and/or tobacco, may exacerbate the toxic effect of hydrogen peroxide.

The use of fake tanning sprays may cause allergic reactions for some people and their use is not advised during pregnancy when the skin can become more sensitive. The Government strongly discourage the use of ultra-violet tanning for cosmetic purposes because of the increased risk of skin cancer.

Health complications for clients arising from tattooing, piercing, acupuncture and electrolysis are usually minor and self-limiting, such as local wound infections and swelling. Serious complications appear rare. There is a risk of blood-borne virus infection for staff and customers, if the procedures are not carried out hygienically. Customers with certain health conditions, such as for example a heart condition, should seek medical advice before having such procedures undertaken.

No professional assessment has been made regarding the effects on staff who carry out these treatments.

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