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Pedicure Safety Tips

What does the word ‘pedicure’ bring to mind? Pampering and relaxation, or mycobacteria and staph infections? Pedicures have come under fire for causing bacterial and fungal infections. Don’t worry too much -- serious cases are very rare, and most nail technicians have stepped up their sanitation practices in recent years. Still, there are precautions that you can – and certainly should – take before your next pedicure.

  • Get the nitty-gritty on sanitation. Before choosing a nail salon, call it up and ask for details on their sanitation routines. The salon needs to be sanitizing all equipment and tools between clients. Ask what disinfectant it uses, and for how long. Even hospital grade disinfectants need at least 10-15 minutes to be effective.

  • Drop in for an unscheduled tour. Look for a prominently displayed nail license. Check out the overall cleanliness of the place and the willingness of staff to answer your questions. If you see technicians using towels, tools, or equipment on different clients without full sterilization in between, cross off this salon. You have many to choose from.

  • Be wary of footbaths. They might feel amazing, but whirlpool style tubs are also where most infections occur. Unless the salon maintains rigorous disinfecting procedures or uses disposable tubs, your own bathtub is a safer place to soak your feet.

  • Don’t shave (or wax, or use hair removers) at least 24 hours before your pedicure. Removing hair creates tiny nicks and wounds in your skin for bacteria to get in. If you have any bruises, scratches, insect bites, or scabs on your legs or feet, wait until your skin is completely healed before getting a pedicure.

  • Take no chances with sharp instruments. Do not allow a technician to use a razor on your heels, cut your cuticles, or approach your nails with a sharp tool that could puncture the skin. Your cuticles and skin form a natural barrier between your body and harmful bacteria.

  • Bring your own tools. If you’re still worried, you can insist that your nail technician use your own tools, which are safer than shared tools. Some salons are willing to keep your tools on-site and use them only on you.

  • And finally, keep an eye on your feet and legs for a few days after the pedicure. Infections often start out looking like insect bites. In the unlikely event you do suffer an infection, get it treated ASAP and mention the pedicure as a possible cause to your doctor.

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