It’s no secret that when the weather starts to heat up we all have a hard time facing our toenails, especially the ladies! It’s during this time of year that men and women alike head to their local nail salons to give their feet and toes the “royal treatment” ensuring they look their best for day one of “sandal weather!” Since we are focusing on foot health this month, I think it’s important for you to know how to be your own advocate in a nail salon, should you chose to get pedicures.
The most commonly seen consequence of pedicures is infection. The nail salon, with foot soaks, cuticle treatments and trimming of nails provides an excellent medium for bacteria to grab on to your toes and your nails leading to infection. Pedicures are not something that we, as Podiatrists endorse, but should you decide to get a pedicure anyway, here are some “salon smart” tips that will help you protect yourself!
1. Find a salon that is clean. Cleanliness won’t prevent infection, but it sure beats a salon that’s dirty. Make sure that your salon is cleaning out their foot basins and autoclaving their tools between clients. Look for bleach products on shelves and disposable pedicure sandals. All of these clues can indicate that your salon cares about their clients and they are committed to cutting your risk of infection following your pedicure.
2. Purchase your own pedicure tools. Most salons offer clients the option of purchasing tools that will only be used by that specific client. The salon will sterilize your tools and hold them in a box with your designated number on it. You can then rest assured knowing that only your nails and cuticles have been trimmed and cleaned using those tools.
3. Do not allow the pedicurist to push back your cuticles. Cuticles provide a barrier from infection and when cuticles are trimmed or pushed back, that barrier is broken. This increases the risk of infection, because ‘bugs’ now have an inlet. Just say no!
4. Do you have Diabetes? If so, do not get pedicures! As we’ve discussed in the past, diabetics have decreased blood flow to the parts of their body that are furthers from their heart, especially their toes. With decreased blood flow comes decreased ability to fight infection and decreased ability to heal a cut or wound on the toes. Pedicures are not worth the risk of infection.
5. Give your toes a breather! In the winter months and during weeks in the summer when you know you won’t be heading to a barbeque or to the beach, take any nail polish on your toenails off and let them have some air! It sounds silly, but nail polish acts as a sealant on your nails trapping in moisture. Moisture, as discussed before can lead fungal infections or staining of the nails, so every once in a while removing the nail polish is beneficial to your nail health.
Hopefully these tips will help you in selecting a salon for your next pedicure, but if you really don’t need one, or can give yourself an “at home pedicure,” its better to steer clear of the salon! Infection in your toes is worse than a nail or two that aren’t perfectly pedicured.