Summertime means sandals and bare feet. For many women, this also means pedicure season. Although you may feel that going to a professional nail salon will save you time and effort, there are some things that you must watch out for. Nail salons can be a host of infections. In fact, there have been two documented cases where women contracted fatal staph infections. Furthermore, there are thousands of documented cases of other bacterial and fungal infections. In order to protect yourself, there are a few tips. First, if you have any open sores, cuts, wounds, or any other issues, skin your pedicure. Second, make sure your technician has washed his or her hands thoroughly between session. There are a few other important things to watch out for.
The most important question to ask your technician is how do they sterilize their tools? Have they been in the open air, or were they used in a prior treatment? Instruments can come into contact with molds, bacteria and viruses, which then can be shared. Liquid sterilization does not always work very well. Steam sterilization and ultraviolet options will offer the best protection, killing the most pathogens. However, those have to be done well. Don’t feel bad for asking and looking at any bottles or liquids they use for sanitation, to ensure it is a good germicide. It can take 10-15 minutes or more for something to be fully sterilized. If they just throw something in for a minute, especially in just barbicide, then do not allow them to use those instruments on you. If you want, you can bring your own instruments with you to ensure they are safe, especially if they are surgical stainless steel. Some tools, like buffers, files and orange sticks, should not be reused, as they are not able to be sterilized. If you see any that seem to be reused, contact the Board of Health. Definitely do not let them be used on your feet.
The Chair and Surrounding Area
When you visit a salon, you also want to look at the chair and the surrounding area. There should be nothing around the chairs and footbath areas. Clutter, dirt, and more can lead to germs. Any used instruments, even if they are not using them, should be moved away. If you feel it looks too dirty, too unsanitary, do not feel bad about leaving. It is your health on the line. Furthermore, the chair should be sanitized between clients. Visiting a salon in the off-peak times will help ensure that the technicians have the time to properly clean.
The Foot Baths
Footbaths are very difficult to properly clean and sterilize, especially quickly. However, they can have numerous germs, and provide great warm, wet environments that allow pathogens to grow and prosper. Mycobacterium (which cause boils), warts, MRSA (a terrible infection), athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, HPV and swine flu can all be incubating in the footbaths. A pipeless system for the footbath is safer, as the bacteria can breed in pipes. Again, ask how they clean and sterilize the footbaths. All the water should be drained, the walls scrubbed, and the disinfectant cycle should run for a minimum 10 minutes. Porcelain footbaths are better than the rubber soaking tubs.
Although there are ways to ensure you get a safe pedicure, the safest option is to do it yourself. You can easily do a pedicure at home, without having to worry about any disgusting germs getting in the way. The seven steps to a pedicure include soak, exfoliate, pumice, moisturize, massage, and polish. You want to first have clean feet and polish free nails. Create your own relaxing footbath by pouring hot water in a big pot or bowl. You can enhance it with Epsom salts and essential oils. Allow your feet time to soak, around 10 minutes. After you have soaked your feet, they are ready to be rid of any dry skin, flakes, and calluses. Start with an exfoliate scrub made for feet. Sugar scrubs are great, and you can even use it all up your calves. Rub it in, and then rinse it off. Any really tough patches can be pumiced. Before you moisturize, trim the nails and work on your cuticles. You can always massage your own feet while you moisturize. Now, your nails are ready for polish, if that is what you want. You have performed an excellent at home pedicure, saved yourself some money and the threat of disease from the salon.