A Healthy Pedicure
Steps to Achieving a Healthier Spring Pedicure
By Annette Joyce DPM
When scheduling a pedicure, choose a nail salon wisely. It is important to pick a professional salon based on reputation and personal referral not simply cost. Ask your healthcare provider or podiatrist which salon he or she frequents or recommends. Many reputable hair and nail establishments must be licensed by a Board of Cosmetology and are inspected regularly for cleanliness and customer safety.
Ask questions about tools. How does the salon disinfect their tools? Most quality establishments have heat or steam sterilizers as well as cold disinfectant solution. All stainless steel tools are generally re-used and must be cleaned vigorously. If they are soaked in solution, they need to sit for 10-12 hours in order to be sterile (free of germs). If the tools come in contact with open skin, blood or body fluids, they will need to be heat sterilized at high temperatures for infection control. Some salons offer sterile packs or pouches which are single use. This is the most effective way to prevent the spread of disease or fungus and bacteria from person to person.
Whirlpools are relaxing but exercise caution. It is generally accepted as safe to soak in a whirlpool. Those customers who are diabetic or have an open cut or wound should avoid whirlpools. MRSA, a resistant bacterial infection has been linked to contaminated hot tubs in gyms and spas. To be safe, ask your cosmetologist to empty the water, refill and clean the tub with germicidal cleaner prior to jumping in.
Bring your own nail polish. One of the most concerning practices in nail salons is the re-use of nail polish including the brush. It may seem fun to pick a pretty new color but the last user may have had a budding nail infection or skin fungus, which affects about 10% of the population. The spores from fungus can easily grow in a bottle of opened nail polish. It’s best to bring your own. If your nails dry out easily, consider non-formaldehyde based polishes like Drs. Remedy, which contains tea tree oil and nourishing ingredients.
Avoid “sharp” skin treatments. If you have a painful callous or dry cracked heels, think twice before allowing a skin scraping or shaving. State licensure forbids salons to use razor blades or scalpels (sharps) on their customers due to the risk of blood borne diseases like hepatitis. A better solution would be a disposable emery board, single use, or an exfoliating rub. Avoid any peeling or cutting of intact skin to avoid catching athlete’s feet or folliculitis (inflamed skin follicle).
A pedicure is never a substitute for preventative foot health care. If you are diabetic, have ingrown or discolored toenails or skin eruptions like dry flaky skin, please do not seek the advice of a cosmetologist. These are not medical professionals and should refer you to your family doctor or a podiatrist. The art of removing an ingrown toenail requires a physician’s expertise and can lead to a deeper infections if left untreated. Always make an appointment with your doctor for a foot health problem.
Fungus is among us this spring. One of the most common podiatry concerns in the early spring is the emergence of skin and nail fungus or onychomycosis. This hardy organism loves living in our shoes and on our skin and can flourish when the weather is warm and humid. Many new treatments options can prevent nails fungus including Rx tropical, shoe sprays and even Nail Lasers. Onychomycosis is not simply a cosmetic problem but can lead to serious skin infections and loss of toenails. Consider early treatment options by visiting your podiatrist for the best results. Most treatments take 4-6 months to see results so you can start seeing healthier nails by summer.
Annette Joyce, D.P.M., is the founder of Freedom Foot and Ankle and has been practicing podiatry in the State of Maryland for over 15 years. She is a board certified podiatrist and serves as a Board Member of the American Society of Podiatric Dermatology. Offices are locacated in Westminster and Eldersburg, visit www.freedomfootandankle.com or call 410-861-5092 for additional information.