With sandal season just around the corner, it’s time to get those feet in tip top shape. If for you, summer is synonymous with pedicures, here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind before your next trip to the nail salon.
Whirlpool foot baths can harbor an assortment of dangerous fungus and bacteria. Finding a salon that uses individual, disposable bath liners ensures you are safe from cross-contamination with previous clients. If you do end up at a salon with whirlpool foot baths, staff should be thoroughly disinfecting them between each customer – instructions usually require a minimum 10 minutes of disinfecting.
Before you get in the chair, check to see that staff are soaking tools in a blue liquid disinfectant and ask what type of sterilization process they use. Disinfectant alone is not enough to kill all bacteria. At Simcoe Foot Clinic, we use Autoclaves which act similar to a pressure cooker and kill 100 percent of infective organisms using high pressure and steam.
Any non-metal tools like buffers or emery boards cannot be completely sterilized and should be thrown out after each client.
If you’re unsure about any part of the sterilization process – ask questions. Staff should be open and knowledgeable about their disinfection and sterilization procedures.
If you want to be on the safe side, bring your own tools (available from most beauty supply stores) and disinfect them at home, using a disinfectant solution or rubbing alcohol, to avoid cross contamination.
When trimming your nails, ask the technician to cut straight across with the contour of the nail. Cutting into the corners will encourage the nail to grow into the skin causing ingrown nails. If you already have an ingrown nail or are predisposed to getting them, avoid pedicures all together and see a chiropodist.
If you have any cuts or open sores on your feet/legs where microorganisms can enter the skin, you should steer clear of pedicures until they’re healed. Also avoid shaving at least two days prior to a pedicure as it leaves your skin susceptible to infection.
For diabetics, the feet are particularly vulnerable. A small cut can lead to a very serious infection. If you do decide to get a pedicure, never allow the technician to use any sharp instruments and skip any services that can injure the skin. Better yet, skip the salon and have a Chiropodist (foot specialist) – do a medical pedicure. If you want to add a splash of colour, you can apply polish yourself at home or have the salon do just that.
Keep in mind that nail polish doesn’t allow the nail to breath so make sure to take it off every few weeks and leave nails clear of any polish for at least a week before reapplying.
Not all salons are unsafe. There are many that follow clean and safe practices. It is important to note however, that Chiropodists and Podiatrists are the only regulated foot specialists in Ontario. Because they provide medical treatments, they are covered under most benefit plans and are tax deductible. Chiropodists are highly trained and can detect early warning signs for a range of diseases like diabetes or melanoma. They also have strict infection control standards so you can rest assured that your feet are in good hands.