Having a pedicure seems like a great way to relax, relieve stress, and keep your feet and toenails in tip-top shape. But unfortunately, nail salons can also be hotspots for fungal and bacterial infections, especially salons that don’t follow basic hygiene rules.
How serious is the risk of infection? While there isn't a lot of data on the subject, one small survey found that slightly more than half of nail salon clients had nail or skin infections related to their salon visits. An older study found disease-causing bacteria in 97% of foot baths tested.
At AllCare Foot & Ankle Center, Michael V. Tran, DPM, helps patients in Arlington and Dallas, Texas, maintain their healthy feet, with treatments tailored specifically for their needs. If a pedicure is in your future, following these simple tips could help you avoid fungal infections and other potential problems.
Look for the license
Before you even make your pedicure appointment, check the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation website to make sure the salon and its providers are licensed. Licensing establishes guidelines for sanitation and cleanliness that can help you feel confident about your care and your results.
Check for cleanliness
Speaking of cleanliness, even if the salon has an active license, you should still take a quick survey of its cleanliness when you arrive. Look for debris on the floor, dirty trays, old nail clippings, or overflowing trash cans.
Tech hygiene matters, too
In addition to overall cleanliness, your provider needs to practice good personal hygiene. Before they provide any services to you, they should wash their hands thoroughly or use a hand sanitizer. They should also carefully clean your skin and feet before providing care.
Check the tools or bring your own
Nail-care tools can pick up — and transmit — germs and fungi from one client and then pass that infection on to you. Make sure the salon cleans and disinfects tools between each client, or better still, bring your own.
Some tools, like emery boards, should be thrown away after each client. To be really safe, bring your own polish. Repeatedly dipping the same brush into a bottle of polish is another way to spread infection from one person to another.
Make sure tubs are disinfected
Most salons include a relaxing foot bath prior to a pedicure to disinfect your feet and soften your nails and dead skin. While a good soak may feel great, it’s also a good way to spread infection.
Make sure the tubs are cleaned and disinfected between each use, and if your salon uses disposable liners, be sure they apply a new one before your soak. Salons are required to keep detailed cleaning logs that should be available for your review.
Don’t let them trim your calluses
Texas law also prohibits the use of razors or other cutting implements to remove calluses, corns, or other dead skin. Not only can these tools cause serious damage, but they can also be a source of bacterial and fungal infections.
Check the labels
Nail salons can’t use products that contain a compound called methyl methacrylate (MMA). MMAs have a very strong smell that can irritate your airways. If you notice a chemical smell, consider using a different salon.
Skip the curves
Make sure your technician trims your nails straight across, and don’t have them file the edges into curves, either. Rounded or curved edges are more likely to cause ingrown nails that can require medical intervention to correct.
Tell them to leave the cuticles alone
Cuticle trimming is a frequent service provided by nail salons, but to keep your nails healthy, you should skip the slip. The cuticles help prevent germs from getting into your nail bed, and they support normal nail growth, too.
Before your visit
You can take a few more steps before your visit to reduce your risk of infections. First, don’t shave before your visit. Shaving can cause tiny nicks that can let germs enter your skin, especially during the foot soak.
Look carefully for other wounds, too. Ingrown nails, blisters, and scrapes can all provide an entry point for germs that can cause painful infections. And finally, read the reviews. Look specifically for any comments that mention hygiene-related concerns that could help you decide whether to look elsewhere.
Professional services at our practice
You don’t have to go to a salon for all your pedicure services — our team offers nail care, too. To learn what else you can do to care for your feet, request an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Tran and the team at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center today.