Now that the weather is getting warmer, have you scheduled a pedicure so your feet will look pretty in your new summer sandals? If so, you need to make sure the salon or spa you’re going to practices proper hygiene; otherwise you may come home with more than pretty painted toenails.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, salons that use unsanitary tools and contaminated footbaths increase your risk of developing fungal infections, like athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, and bacterial skin infections, like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which is a potentially serious antibiotic-resistant staph infection. You can also potentially pick up warts caused by HPV (human papillomavirus), yeast infections, and hepatitis C.
While we’re not saying you shouldn’t get a pedicure, you should take a few precautions to ensure your feet’s safety.
- Make sure the salon and technician are licensed by the state.
- Schedule your pedicure for first thing in the morning, so the pedicure instruments and footbaths are at their cleanest.
- Ask how much time is scheduled between appointments. Pedicure disinfectants take at least 10 minutes to work. If the salon is booking customers back-to-back, look for another salon.
- Ask about the salon’s sanitizing procedures. A few salons may use an autoclave to sterilize their pedicure tools with steam and heat. This is the best way to sanitize tools. At the very least, pedicure instruments should be soaked in disinfectant between customers. Footbaths should be drained and washed with a disinfectant between customers and every night. Make sure the salon also cleans and sanitizes the footbath filter, as screen located on the back of tub. Bacteria often grow there. A hospital-grade disinfectant works the best for sanitizing footbaths and tools, killing more types of bacteria, viruses and fungus.
- Don’t shave, wax or use hair removal creams on your legs for 24 hours before a pedicure. Hair removal can cause cuts or abrasions that allow bacteria and fungus to enter.
- Bring your own pedicure tools to reduce the risk of infection and make sure the technician uses them. If the salon’s pedicure tools haven’t been properly sterilized, bacteria and fungus can be easily transferred from person to person. And, some tools, like nail buffers and emery boards, can’t be sanitized and may not be replaced between customers.
- Make sure the salon looks sanitary, including the bathrooms. If the surfaces or bathrooms look dirty, then leave. The salon likely doesn’t have good hygiene practices.
- Ensure once you’re there that the footbaths and instruments are being disinfected properly.
- Check to see if the technicians wash their hands between customers or uses gloves.
- Don’t let the technician cut your cuticles or push them back. The cuticle provides a protective barrier, when it is cut, removed or damaged by pushing it back, bacteria and fungus can get in.
- Don’t let the technician use a razor-type tool on your feet to remove dead skin. The technician can easily cut off too much skin, causing an infection or permanent damage to your skin. Your feet should be smoothed with a pumice stone or a foot file.
- Check your feet over the next few days to several weeks following your pedicure to make sure you’re not developing an infection. Itchy feet or yellowish toenails may be a sign of a fungal infection. If you develop a pimple or abscess that’s red, swollen or painful, you may have staph infection. See your doctor if you think you have an infection.
While most pedicures are perfectly safe, by taking these precautions, you’ll ensure that you’re protecting your feet. And that you’re leaving the salon with just pretty feet.
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