women getting toenails paintedAt this time of year women love to go to nail salons or spas to get pedicures. And I don't blame them. It's a relaxing, wonderful treat to have an expert rub your feet and paint your nails. Unfortunately not all nail salons are very scrupulous when it comes to cleaning their tools or having a sanitary foot soak. 

The last thing you want from a relaxing pedicure is a nasty bacterial or fungal nail infection.

Recommendations to decrease risk of getting fungus at a nail salon:

  • Most salons use a whirlpool type of bath. If these baths aren't cleaned properly in between clients, then you're exposing yourself to whatever bacteria and fungus the previous clients have. Salons should be draining the water after each client and then filling them with disinfectant for at least 10 minutes before draining it and filling with water for the next person.

    Salons may also use individual bath liners that are removed after each client or glass bowls that they clean between each client. These are both good practices.

  • Ask if nail implements are cleaned in an autoclave. Autoclaves are used in medical practices to clean their instruments using steam and pressure to eliminate any germs. Many salons use liquid disinfectants, but these only work if they are left to soak for at least 20 minutes.

  • If you can't check out the cleaning procedures ahead of time, bring your own nail implements so you are guaranteed they are sanitary.

  • Never allow them to cut your cuticles. Your cuticles are meant to protect your nails from bacterial or fungal invasion. Cutting them takes away that protection.

  • Don't let nail technicians remove an ingrown toenail. Some nail technicians may claim to do this safely but don't risk it. Getting an ingrown toenail removed is a surgical procedure that requires the expertise of a podiatrist. Most ingrown toenails are already infected and so the potential for further exposure to other bacteria is a bad idea.

  • Don't let nail technicians to remove your calluses.Many technicians are too aggressive when it comes to removing calluses and/or your skin using graters that look like they could cut cheese. This can be very dangerous particularly for people with diabetes or poor circulation. 

  • Make sure that your technician cuts your nails straight across, to prevent your toenails from becoming ingrown.

  • Ask them to moisturize your nails after removing the old polish. Nail polish remover contains chemicals that can dry out your nails and make them brittle.

Before heading to the salon:

  • Be sure to wait 24 hours after shaving your legs to get your pedicure. Some potentially life threatening skin infections can occur (eg. cellulitis) if your legs and feet are exposed to certain bacteria. Shaving creates small cuts in your skin creating the perfect environment for bacteria to enter from improperly sanitized instruments and foot baths.
     
  • Purchase nail polish that does not contain toxic chemicals. Regular nail polish contains formaldehyde, toluene, and phthalates. They can also weaken nails and put you at greater risk for a fungal nail infection. Try Dr.'s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish which contains tea tree oil, biotin, and wheat protein and none of the harmful chemicals mentioned above. It can be used safely when pregnant.
     
  • Finally, if you have diabetes or have a compromised immune system you need to avoid nail salons altogether. Nail infections can turn into ulcers and can be potentially life threatening. You can easily do your own pedicure.

If you have fungal toenails check out these resources:

 

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