Bar rot


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Christie's Nails

Well-Known Member
Jan 11, 2003
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Hawaii, USA
Anyone ever heard of this? I have a client who is a bartender and has very inflamed skin around her nails. She also has nails that seperate from the nail bed. She says this is bar rot and is very common among bar tenders because of always having your hands in water and lemons or limes and stuff like that. I was quite alarmed when I first saw her nails but she assured me that they look better with acrylics than they did before. She came to me already wearing acrylics so I have never seen how they looked without.

Anyone seen this before?
I've seen it before Christie. Pretty, isn't it? :puke:

I'd be wearing gloves or something if I had to be in all the citric acid and water. Or couldn't they use tongs to pick up the fruit??? Really, I think they should be wearing gloves.

We had a few bartenders in the first salon I worked at and they all had it. Don't really think there's much we can do at our end. :rolleyes:
never heard of that!! You would think they would have to use tongs etc for the fruit but I guess when slicing and dicing they can't! It does sound gross :pukeoff: Be interesting to see if any of the UK gals have seen this! Is 'Bar rot' just a nick-name or an actual proper name??? ;)
I imagine it is probably a slang term. I can't imagine a doctor going "hmmm rot" LOL heehee cracking myself

I wonder why they don't wear gloves..maybe they think it would look funny with the bar tenders all wearing medical gloves...but when you think about...they have their hands all over everything. They take your money, then go slice a lemon? is so dirty.
Hi everybody

I saw the very same condition on my chiropodist collegues patient (who is a bar maid) last week. She did want to book a manicure but informed me that she was taking anti-biotics, her fingers very very tender and swollen and she had bad lifting of the natural nail. She said that a few days before on pressing the skin it had produced pus. I have not closed the door on her but we discussed waiting until the condition had settled and the doctor has given her some sort of explanation of what was causing it.
She asked me if she could borrow a file, I said yes but told her she could keep it, better safe than sorry.
I'll try to keep you informed as I find out more.
I have never heard nor seen of this... :huh: it sounds like it would be painful. Best of luck with nourishing her nails back to healthy looking nails. :)
Hi Christie

You didn't take a photo by any chance did you? If so how about posting it on the board.

Did you carry out the service or did you recomend she see her doctor.

Over in the UK, as far as I can recall, most bartenders either use tongs or a cocktail stick to place your lemon into the glass.

To think that lady, and many more, are literally putting their infected fingers in our drinks....................eweh :puke:

See ya, Dellie
Here it is...

So you can see the cuticle area is red and imflamed. The arrow is pointing at where the nail is not attached to the nail bed. Do you see the shadow? Her pinkies are worse from some reason, they are barely attached...this is the middle finger. I have never seen her nails so infected that they have pus under them. It just seems that the skin is constantly irritated and this affects the nail beds. She has been a bartender for 17 years and claims to have tried everything, just something she lives with. I do not re-use files on more than one person anyway so I do not think she can infect anyone else.

But she still likes her nail art...

Christie, I haven't heard of this either. YUCK!!!! :pukeoff: Glad I am not a bartender. Sounds painful!!!! Think I'd find another job!!!!! or better yet, wear gloves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep us posted on it, and let us know if you find out anything else!!!!
I've been thinking... :huh: it looks totally like onycholysis (nail plate separation) I've had this on my pinkies :cus: too and the plate has grown back on to the bed no problem. What I was wondering was... since she is a bartender - do you think she uses her nails to open cans etc causing severe stress on the natural nail, that eventually it 'pops' from the bed causing the onycholysis - + she may not realsie that this is what is causing her problem...just a thought ne way :rainbow:
Hi all!

Yeppo I've heard of Bar Rot myself! Seen it too!

I checked a Bartending Message Board and see that Bar Rot is a topic of conversation. I copied a couple of the responses that include some over the counter topical creams/lotions to take care of this. So they say.

I would like to add on my own, that there is nothing like a professional opinion - Go To A Doctor FIRST.

Ok, that said, here is what some bartenders said:

sounds like a case of "bar rot" there is a great topical cream called "Bag Balm" it is used by farmers to keep cows udders heealthy but its tops for your problem . Get a second opinion and dont stop washing those hands

I've had the same thing, and I went through steroid creams, anti-fungals, and anti-biotics. I found an over-the-counter remedy called "Monphytol" that works very well; there is also one called "Phytex", but it didn't do as much for me. I don't know if these products are available where you live; I live in the Cayman Islands. Good luck!!
P.S, Try hot salt-water soaks several times per day, and always soak before putting on topical medicine, as it allows the drug to penetrate deeper.

It's true...bartenders shake people's hands (who probably didn't wash after they "went") they handle money, clean out ashtrays, empty garbage, cut fresh lemons/limes, SQUEEZE THEM into our drinks....and serve it up with a smile.

Take Care!
I don't believe "bar rot" is anything resembling a fungus or bacterial issue....except maybe it can turn into something nasty if someone is careless.

The main problem is the acid from the citrus fruits they are constantly in and then the water on top of that. The acid is corrosive to the skin...they are in this stuff for hours a night. Eventually it just eats the skin away.

I am by no means a doctor but I've seen this in a few bartenders and it's really not uncommon.......gross, yes.

I really don't know what my point was on this....I guess just that the citric acid in most cases is the culprit.
"thymolize" helped her tremendously. She'd go through a small container of it every two weeks. I told her to keep it in her purse & every morning & evening (after work) use it. All of her nails re-attached. However, She'd always have at least one with it due to popping cans open, opening boxes, etc. I hve that prob from timt to time as well :( because of prying open things & using my nails as tools, not jewels!! (of course I tell my clients NOT to do that, but I do!!! LOL) One good thing about those ladies, they are very faithful when it comes to keeping their nails up. They love acrylics!!!
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