Alex Bernhardt was doing an interview when MP Kerryn Phelps noticed a telling mark on her arm.

Sydney journalist Alex Bernhardt ended up in hospital with a severe infection after a manicure.

The A Current Affair reporter hadn’t been too concerned about the reddened bump on her elbow she developed shortly after going to her local salon for a manicure where she’d received a small cut on her finger.

So it’s lucky that she was assigned to interview Wentworth MP, Professor Kerryn Phelps.

Prof Phelps, a trained medical doctor, noticed something was wrong.

She told her she had a “septic bursitis” in her elbow, and it was serious.

“Its other name is olecranon bursitis and we don’t see those very often, but when they are seen they need to be treated as a matter of urgency,” she later told A Current Affair.

Prof Phelps spotted the inflammation on her elbow and soon realised Alex had a cut on her finger. Image: A Current Affair.

Bernhardt was given a prescription and told to go to hospital at the end of the day if the swelling hadn't subsided. And that's where she ended up, at Royal North Shore hospital, receiving intravenous antibiotics for the next three days.


But it could have been worse. Doctors warned the reporter they may need to operate at one stage. And other women with similar infections ended up undergoing operations and even losing parts of their fingers.

Last March a woman in the US shared her horrific experience after contracting an infection during a pedicure in her hometown of Noblesville, Indiana.

The woman said in a Facebook post she was put on "the strongest antibiotics available given by IV" and almost lost her toe.

She said she found out that it was the pumice stone and foot scrapers that most likely led to her infection.

Manicurist Erin Margrethe has previously warned of the risks associated with implements that cut the cuticles or callouses on your feet in an article she wrote for Mamamia

"There are a lot of manicurists out there who just aren’t happy unless they’ve cut half a kilo of skin off you at each appointment. This is unnecessary, unhygienic, and downright dangerous," she said.

The nail technician warned for customers only to have the dead parts of the cuticle removed, so as not to damage the nail bed.

"A (callous) blade removes too much skin, just causing it to grow back thicker, faster, and rougher. Remember - you need your calluses - you don’t need the dry skin on top of them," she added.

"A quality foot-file paired with a lactic-acid callus gel and a moisturising foot scrub will tackle the toughest bits of your feet, leaving them smooth and soft with no trauma."

Margrethe also recommended people look out for sterilisation practices and not be afraid to ask for things like a new file, for instance.

However, Prof Phelps told A Current Affair that even if nail salons met the highest hygiene standards, there could still be a risk of infection because many people carry infection-causing germs on their skin.