How to Get a Safe & Healthy Pedicure
How to Get a Safe and Healthy Pedicure
With spring well underway and summer around the corner, you’ll certainly look for opportunities to show off your toenails. Beyond the cosmetic aspect, treating your feet to a pedicure can be pure bliss. Rare are those who would not enjoy surrendering their feet to a skilled technician, to massage away accumulated stress and tension. However, if you’re planning to yield to this welcome temptation, arm yourself with knowledge. For, the risk of picking up an infection is real, especially if you have diabetes, peripheral nerve damage, poor blood circulation, open sores or existing infections of your skin or nails. Taking a few precautions would help you avoid coming back home with more than just pretty feet.
The Right Salon Environment
When it comes to your foot care, appearance does matter. The first step to a safe pedicure is a clean, tidy salon….and don’t forget to peak in the restroom! Look around as you enter and ask questions if in doubt. It’s not out of order to ask to see the salon owner’s license, as well as that of the technicians. Also, ask whether the salon has a clear disinfection procedure and whether there’s a protocol in place for minor accidents, such as cuts. Many technicians do not wear gloves, so that’s something you should watch out for. Your salon of choice should use sterile instruments and disinfect them between customers, with a hospital-grade disinfectant. Stainless steel instruments are usually a better choice than porous ones, because they are easier to clean. Most disinfectants require at least 10 minutes for adequate effectiveness, so a red flag should go up if you see technicians using the same tools on one customer right after another. The technicians should also clean the basins they use for foot soaks and disinfect them between customers. If they use emery boards, make sure they throw them away after each use. For the greatest peace of mind, bring your own nail kits to the salon. The next best alternative is to go in the morning, when you’re more likely to have freshly cleaned instruments used on your feet.
Common Problems You May Encounter
Most trips to the nail salon are uneventful, pleasant experiences. However, a number of things can go wrong during a pedicure. Fungal infections and ingrown toenails are by far the most likely problems to occur. That’s because fungi are everywhere and can easily spread from one customer to another via improperly cleaned instruments. That’s why the systematic disinfection of pedicure tools is so important. Also, fungi take advantage of breakages in your skin to cause an infection under your toenails or skin. The same truth applies to bacteria. That is why a pedicurist should not use sharp tools to remove dead skin from your feet. Pumice stones and foot files are preferable, but even then, their usage should be gentle, to avoid breaking your skin. Your cuticles also need gentle manipulation because they act as a protective barrier for your nail beds. Do not allow them to be removed.
To avoid ingrown toenails, make sure that your toenails are not cut too short and that there is no sharp edge on your nail borders. Nail nippers are usually better instruments than regular clippers because of their contoured tips.
If you have a condition that decreases your immunity, blood circulation or sensation, proceed with caution. A pedicure may not be an absolute “no-no” from a medical point of view, but know that such conditions could make healing more difficult or longer, should you pick up an infection. Common examples include diabetes, peripheral nerve damage, and peripheral vascular disease. If you have any of the above condition, make sure you inform the salon technician… or better still, seek nail care from a medical professional. If you have an open sore or an existing infection of your skin or nails, do yourself and other potential customers a favor by not getting a pedicure. The infection could spread through you. Also, keep in mind that hair removal can cause tiny cuts in your skin that may allow bacteria and fungi to enter. Therefore, if you use hair removal creams or wax to your legs and feet, wait a couple of days before getting a pedicure. Even though the tiny cuts from leg-shaving are difficult to notice, it’s a good idea to examine your feet before you get a pedicure. Also check your feet after a pedicure, to make sure there’s no new problem. Watch out especially for any irritation, itchiness, blisters, changes of color and new onset of pain in your toenails or skin.
- Before you go to the salon. Do not shave your legs during the 48 hours that precede your appointment and make sure your do not have any cuts, bruises or infection of your skin or toenails. Ideally, bring your own nail care kits.
- While you’re at the salon. Look around and make sure that the environment is clean and tidy before you sink into that fat, cozy massage chair. Ask about infection control protocols.
- During the pedicure. Keep an eye open. Do not allow the technician to cut your cuticles and make sure your feet are not smoothed too aggressively.
- After you leave. Take note of any problem with your feet and consult a podiatrist or primary care physician if a concern arises.
- Special considerations. If you have poorly-controlled diabetes, poor blood circulation or nerve damage, seek nail care from a medical professional or consider going to a medical spa. Alternatively, be extra cautious and make sure the nail salon technician is aware of any relevant medical condition.
- Communication. Talk to your salon technician. Ask questions and do not hesitate to politely give instructions. It’s not out of order, for instance, to give specific instructions regarding the temperature of a footbath.
Be proactive, but not paranoid. Most pedicures are safe and can leave your feet both pretty and healthy, provided you take the necessary precautions.