Getting a mani pedi is meant to be relaxing, but are you being too relaxed about your spa hygiene? We spoke to podiatrist Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, and dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner to get to the bottom of nail salon dangers–you’ll never believe what they had to say! Read below for their expert advice on how to stay protected while being pampered.
Do your research.
“When you go to a nail salon, you should make sure it is licensed by the state,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner. “You want to make sure that you choose a salon that uses clean instruments [which] should be sterilized between customers. You need to ask the salon what method they use.”
Avoid the “Wednesday special.”
“I warn my patients against the ‘Wednesday special,’ or that day where they have a mani/pedi for $20 or $30,” says Dr. Jacqueline Sutera. “There’s a lot more traffic through the salon on that day. If you have the choice, go in the morning when things are a little bit cleaner, and the technicians aren’t tired.”
“If prices are too cheap, there may be a reason, and it may be too good to be true,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner. I personally recommend quality over a good deal. Do your research on the salon before going to one featured on a website deal. It may be a quality salon, but you need to research it first.”
BYOT! Bring your own tools.
“I really recommend bringing your own tools,” says Dr. Jacqueline Sutera. “Most places will have a little drawer where you can store them, and sometimes they’ll even have a kit they sell. This helps prevent transferring bacteria and molds and viruses from one person to another. If you want to take it a step further, you can bring the tools home and disinfect them yourself. The best way to do that is to use betadine, which is a brown solution you can get over the counter at any drugstore in the first aid aisle. It does a great job of killing viruses.”
Dr. Joshua Zeichner agrees and suggests you also bring your own nail polish. “This ensures that it a new, clean and high quality. Old nail polish, or a bottle filled with a no-name brand polish can be drying and can cause damage to the nails.”
Don’t shave your legs!
“If you have any little cuts on you, or if you just shaved your legs a few hours ago or even that day, your skin is susceptible to infection,” warns Dr. Jacqueline Sutera. “You’re putting your open skin into water that may already contain bacteria, a virus or fungus from someone else. I’ve actually seen people get folliculitis, an infection around the pore where your hair comes out; and cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin.”
Use whirlpools with caution.
“If you soak your feet in a whirlpool and it was not disinfected well, you’re putting yourself at risk for any germs that are living in it from the people before you,” says Dr. Jacqueline Sutera. She recommends spas that use a triple filtration system, like her go-to salon, New York Diva Nail Salon. “They filter the water that comes into and out of the basin, so that it doesn’t get recirculated somehow, in the drain and in the piping.”
“Whirlpool basins that are attached to chairs are difficult to clean. Bacteria can grow within the jets and filters. It can cause skin infections leading to non-healing boils on the legs,” adds Dr. Joshua Zeichner.
To prevent this from happening, Dr. Sutera suggests using a liner for the basin. Dr. Zeichner says, “It is best to soak your feet in a basin of water separate from the one attached to the chair.”
Say no to these tools.
“[Turn down] foot files,” says Dr. Jacqueline Sutera. “There’s no great way to clean them. Dr. Sutera also advises again callus cutters. “They are actually illegal in the state of New York and New Jersey,” she says. “It’s not okay for them to be cutting at your skin with an instrument. There are no real regulations, and nail technicians don’t know how deep to go or if that callus isn’t really a callus, but some kind of wart, skin tumor or lesion.”
“Don’t let the manicurist cut your cuticles,” adds Dr. Zeichner. “Cuticles protect the nails from getting infections at the base of the nail where it grows out of the skin. Instead, have them push back skin.”
Furthermore, Dr. Sutera advises against going to nail salons to get ingrown toenails removed. “That’s a surgical procedure covered by insurance and needs to be done by a podiatrist,” she says.
See a doctor if…
“The most common [diseases contracted in nail salons] are fungus, warts, and bacterial infections,” says Dr. Jacqueline Sutera. “I get people with ingrown toenails that [are infected] because the [nail technicians] were too aggressive. If you think that you have any of these infections, go see a doctor right away because some of these conditions can be contagious or get worse. In some cases, if you’re diabetic, if you have poor circulation, or other medical problems you can actually end up in the hospital with a bacterial infection that started as a little ingrown toenail.”
“Any non-healing wound, cut, or infection should be checked out by your dermatologist,” adds Dr. Joshua Zeichner. He goes on to explain how you might spot these conditions, “Mycobacterial infections look like red, tender nodules on the legs. Athletes foot presents itself with scaling of the skin on the bottom of the feet or maceration of skin between the toes. Nail fungus can look like a white or yellow discoloration of the nail, along with nail thickening.”
For more information on nail salon safety regulations in your area, visit www.files.nailsmag.com.