Whether you’re getting ready to go barefoot or just looking to be pampered, pedicures are a popular way for people all over the world to treat themselves. Our feet are often one of the first parts to get sore when we work hard or exercise properly, so getting them massaged and beautified can feel like a great, well-earned reward. But as nice as they may feel, there are certain health risks associated with pedicures that often get overlooked.
By far the biggest risk associated with pedicures is cross contamination. The number of different tools used in a salon combined with the endless stream of customers passing through make the possibility of picking up bacterial or fungal infections very realistic. If it touches your feet, then it probably touches the feet of other customers, and everything from nail clippers to foot baths can be a conduit for infection. Therefore, if you do decide to get a pedicure, it is essential to choose somewhere that properly sterilises their tools. Usually the sterilisation equipment will be clearly visible to customers, so you should be able to observe staff habits as you wait. If they don’t instinctively sterilise a tool when they are finished using it, don’t be afraid to walk out.
Foot baths in particular are one of the hardest pieces of equipment to keep clean, as they cannot be placed in a UV ray machine, or dropped in fluid, and dirt can build up out of sight in the jets. Although you may be tempted to shave your legs before getting a pedicure, this puts you at greater risk, as small nicks in the skin make it easier for bacteria or fungus to make its way into your body. Even insect bites or small scratches you may not realise are there could provide a point of entry, so if you are concerned about the risk of infection, it may be a good idea to skip the bath altogether.
Although a pedicurist will mostly use the same tools we would use on ourselves at home, it is important to highlight the dangers of credo blades. Credo blades look like a combination of a vegetable peeler and a cheese grater, and depending on where you are, they could be illegal. Like pumice stones, credo blades are used to remove calluses. But while pumice stones gently remove the dead skin layer by layer, credo blades take off huge chunks of skin at a time, including healthy skin. They can easily break through the skin and make it much more likely that traces of someone else’s blood will find their way into yours, so don’t view these as a special, professional grade tool, but rather, something to be avoided at all costs.
Pedicures may not be the most dangerous activity in the world, but the risks associated with them should not be ignored. Some people get them regularly, while others reserve them for special occasions, such as weddings. Whatever the reason, if you do decide to get a pedicure, make sure you are selective about where you go. Choose a reputable salon, and don’t just go for the cheapest deal you can find. Alternatively, you can check out our blogs on how to take care of your nails at home and how to get your feet summer ready.