Who would guessed that your delightful pedicures can be harmful to your health? Pedicures are an affordable luxury, treasured by people around the world. Pampering your feet in this way is a great way to de-stress and unwind.
Few things are more relaxing than sitting back in a comfy chair while your nail technician freshens and beautifies your feet. The good news is that a delightful pedicure can still be enjoyed safely, if you take the time to consider the following 8 precautions:
Even the most well-kept foot baths can harbor bacteria and fungus. It’s fine to soak your feet in the warm water, but ask that the jets not be turned on. As soon as they are, the germs trapped inside could be absorbed through cuts or scrapes in your feet. You also want to frequent a salon that uses disposable liners in their foot tubs. This way, you can be sure to avoid cross contamination with the people that came before you. Plastic liners are a really a must. If the shop doesn’t use them, won’t stock them upon request or refuses to let you bring your own – consider changing to a salon that does.
The salon should be clean, nail technicians should wear gloves or properly disinfect their hands between clients. The foot tubs should be disinfected each time as well. Ask your salon if they use an autoclave sterilizer, not a UV light machine or glass bead sterilizer, and not an ultrasonic machine for soaking. Only an autoclave will eliminate all pathogenic organisms including spores. Also, find out if all tools, files and sponges used on you have been autoclaved between clients. Be aware that dipping or soaking instruments in (usually blue) liquid isn’t going to kill bacteria and fungus.
For the ultimate in safety, consider bringing your own supplies. Because germs can spread through tools that aren’t properly cleaned, it’s best to have a personal set. That includes emery boards and pumice stones, which can’t be sterilized due to their porous nature.Some salons actually hand out individual kits and ask their clients to bring them back for each pedicure. If you are given this opportunity, take it! If not, purchase your own set of supplies and bring them along. Be sure to call ahead to make certain that they will honor your request.
Cutting or clipping your cuticles can open the door to irritation and infection, according to WebMD. Also beware that buffing nails too intensely during your pedicures can be harmful too. The cuticle is the nail’s protective barrier made up from several layers of epidermal cells; i.e. they belong there. You can gently push cuticles back with an ‘orange stick’ and moisturize them to give your hands a smoother appearance.
This popular shape actually increases the chance the nails will dig into the skin, causing painful ingrown toenails to develop. Stick with square shapes, not oval, and don’t cut the corners. Ingrown toenails can be treated at home (with a few warm water soaks a day) though if the pain increases or the injury spreads out further – or if you have poor circulation (diabetes, peripheral vascular disease) – you should definitely see your local podiatrist to prevent further complications.
Resist the urge to shave right before your pedicure! Small nicks and cuts just might invite any bacteria roaming around the pedicure procedure. Did you know that subtle abrasions can be caused by shaving, waxing your legs and feet, or even using hair removal creams? Even the tiniest of openings in our skin can allow fungus or bacteria to enter our bodies.
Steer clear of nail salons during ‘prime times’ or while a special is being offered. Try to book appointments during the week; especially during morning hours. On weekends and evenings the nail technicians tend to be more hurried (and tired), and certain more exemplary behaviors may not be consistently practiced.
Be on guard for signs of infection in the days and weeks following your appointment. Pedicures can be harmful after-the-fact; if a pimple or boil appears (red, swollen, painful) you may have a bacterial staph infection. A yellow toenail or itchy foot rash may indicate fungal infection. Should these signs occur, contact your local podiatrist without delay!