Nothing beats rewarding our tired, aching feet with a relaxing pedicure. It eases tension, and makes our feet feel and look better.
However, like so many other pleasures in life, pedicures can be dangerous. The main culprit is germs.
In one salon over 100 customers developed an infection from a dirty whirlpool.
Over the years I’ve treated several people who developed infections after pedicures and in one tragic case, the woman needed her big toe amputated.
The good news is that you can do a few simple things to minimize this danger.
1. Be Sure You’re Healthy Enough For a Pedicure
Consider your health first. Do you have diabetes, poor circulation, neuropathy (numbness or burning in the feet) or skin problems on your feet? These may increase your risk of infection, and you might not want to chance a pedicure.
If you are not sure if you’re healthy enough for a pedicure, have your feet checked by a podiatrist and get his or her opinion.
2. Check Your Legs, Feet and Ankles Before the Pedicure
Any breaks in the skin, nicks, cuts or other sores on your legs, feet or ankles increase the risk of germs penetrating your skin, and until these problems heal you should avoid pedicures.
Along these lines, don’t shave your legs for at least one day prior to your pedicure as razors can leave tiny breaks in the skin too small for you to see, but large enough for nasty bacteria to enter.
3. Ask the Pedicurist Questions
There are a few simple questions you should ask the pedicurist or nail salon at your first visit or even over the phone before you go.
- Is the pedicurist licensed? They should be. And you should be able to see the license prominently displayed.
- Are the pedicurist’s instruments disposable? If not, ask how they clean the instruments. The best way to kill germs is by cleaning the instruments in a sterilization machine called an autoclave. Soaking instruments in a disinfectant solution is not as good, but can be okay if a hospital grade disinfectant is used and the solution is changed regularly.
- How does the salon clean the footbath (and is it cleaned after every customer)? Footbaths can breed germs. If the customer who last used it had an infected sore on their foot, you’ll want to be sure the salon disinfected it properly.
4. See How the Salon Looks
The salon should be clean with no dirt, debris, or hair or nail clippings on the floor or counters, and it should be organized, with bottles clearly labeled and instruments put away in drawers or containers.
If this is not the case, it is likely the salon isn’t taking the time to properly disinfect footbaths or instruments.
5. Pay Attention to the Pedicurist
The pedicurist should be neat and presentable, with clean hands, or better yet, they should wear latex gloves.
And prior to the pedicure, he or she should examine your feet and ask about medical problems that may affect your feet.
6. Be Wary of Pain
A pedicure should never hurt.
Pain during a pedicure may mean the pedicurist is doing something wrong or it could be signal your foot has problem that needs medical attention. Either way, it means its time to stop the pedicure.
Final Thoughts on Pedicures
When salons follow some relatively simple steps pedicures can be safe, soothing and a great reward for our battered feet.
If you have doubts about your salon or pedicurist, don’t risk your health, trust your instincts and go somewhere else.
Please feel free to share your experiences with pedicures.
— Dr. Nirenberg