Are Professional Pedicures Safe? Belly Dancers Safe Practices
A dancer's livelihood and her personal enjoyment lies at her feet. Many dancers rely on professional pedicures to keep them beautiful and healthy. However, having a pedicure today may endanger those pretty tootsies tomorrow.
Former American Idol judge and professional dancer Paula Abdul testified before a California Senate committee in 2005 to lobby for safer manicure and pedicure standards after she had contracted an infection in a salon. The culprit was Mycobacterial fortuitum, a particularly nasty bug that often thrives in salon foot baths and can be spread with unsanitized professional tools. This bacteria can cause soft tissue infections such as sores and boils that may require long-term antibiotic treatment or even reconstructive surgery.
In order to protect not only your feet but your general health, there are several steps you can take to ensure you will get a safe and professional pedicure. The International Pedicure Association (IPA) and The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) urge consumers to be proactive by asking your salon or spa serious questions about their services and to be as observant as a private investigator when you check out their facilities.
Make sure that the pedicurist is legally licensed in your state. All states, except Connecticut, require nail techs to have licenses and to display them prominently.
Is the salon or spa clean in general?
Examine the pedicure area and the pedispas or chairs with attached whirlpool foot baths. Are they clean? Ask the pedicurist how they clean the pedicure tubs and how often. State regulations vary about this. Generally, the filters should be removed nightly, cleaned with detergent, and disinfected. The screens should be soaked in an EPA registered antiseptic for 10 minutes and flushed. Every two weeks, basins should be filled with a bleach solution and left overnight. Each client should have a freshly laundered towel or a disposable towel with polyback lining.
Ask the pedicurist how often they clean their tools and how. All tools should be disinfected by fulling submerging in a disinfectant. Many salons use broad-spectrum disinfectants that contain barbacides, germicides, fungicides, and/or viricides. A medical grade autoclave (sterilizer) is the only way to sterilize metal tools. Are all disposable tools such as emery boards, orange sticks, and gloves tossed after use?
Also, make sure that your pedicurist is using the proper tools. Many states do not permit any razor type cutting tools such as credo blades. If you are unsure what your state's regulations are, contact an accredited cosmetology school or your state cosmetology board.
Does your pedicurist wash her hands before she touches you? Does she use gloves? Glove protect not only the customer but the technician as well.
Does your pedicurist ask about your general health? Does she examine your feet before she begins, looking for conditions you might not see? Pedicurists like many cosmetologists are schooled in basic skin conditions. Sometimes, a pedicurist will recommend that you see a podiatrist (foot doctor) if she recognizes a condition that would be better treated before having a pedicure. You should also alert your pedicurist to any conditions that you think might be important such as diabetes or psoriasis. Psoriasis may look unsightly but it is not a contagious condition. However, your skin may be extra sensitive to the foot whirlpool. Ask for a portable tub and clean water instead.
What You Can Do
- Schedule your pedicure early in the morning when the salon foot baths are cleanest. Or, always ask for a clean basin with fresh water.
- Bring your own pedicure tools. There are a number of safe salon pedicure kits available. If you are having both a manicure and a pedicure, buy two kits. Don't use the same tools for both services since bacteria and fungus can be transferred between toes and fingers.
- Don't shave your legs before getting a pedicure. There might be a small cut on your leg that could be an easy entry for bacteria.
- Don't use hair removal creams or wax your legs within 24 hours of a pedicure. These techniques can leave the skin tender and open to infection.
- If you have any cuts on your feet or even bug bites or rashes like poison ivy, avoid foot spas.
- If you notice a lesion on your foot or leg after having a pedicure and it doesn't seem to heal, see your doctor. Make sure you tell your physician about having a pedicure. Often, medical personnel will notify the local health department for further information and tests.
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