Spa Pedicures:
Facts You Should Know Before Booking Your Appointment!

Keep Safe By Doing Your Homework!

Outbreaks of skin infections on the legs and feet of patrons following spa pedicures have caused concern about spa/salon safety. As a medical nail technician with years of experience, I can testify to that fact that most of my clientele have come to the doctor's office because of infections they received by visiting a less than sanitary nail salon.  

With the danger of staph infections (which can be fatal!), it is increasingly important that you be very careful where you go for nail care. 

It is recommended that you thoroughly research to find a nail spa that has good health practices. 

In light of this, there is a rising demand for medical nail spas (often called medi-spas) for those growing number of clients who are concerned about infection or have special medical needs. Because this trend is so new, you might not have access to a med-spa that sterilizes their equipment using an autoclave and offers their services under the supervision of a medical professional.

What should you know before choosing a spa where you will obtain nail services?

The following are some suggestions for things to check for and questions to ask:

1. Check for a current establishment license to be posted in the reception area of the salon.

2. Are the pedicure area and bathrooms clean. This can tell a lot about the overall cleaning habits of the spa or salon.

3. Ask salon workers how the foot spas are maintained and how often.

4. A foot spa should be disinfected between each customer, and nightly. The disinfectant needs to work for the full time listed on its label, typically 10 minutes, depending on the type of disinfectant. If your technician is servicing back to back clients, then you should see them emptying the spa and refilling it while they are working on your feet.  The spa has to recirculate disinfectant for 10 minutes, then be drained, refilled with clean water and circulated for another 5-10 minutes. If you don't see this happening, then you should suspect that sanitation practices are not being practiced, consistently.  You have the right to ask to view the foot spa cleaning logs to find out when the foot spas were last disinfected. Proper cleaning and disinfection can greatly reduce the risk of getting an infection by reducing the bacteria that can build up in the foot spa system.

5. Disinfectants used in the foot spa should indicate on the label that they're approved for hospital use. A disinfectant label should clearly show its uses. Salons should use an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant.

6. DO NOT shave, wax or use hair removal creams on your legs less than 24 hours prior to receiving a pedicure. These procedures can cause microscopic breaks in the skin which can leave you more vulnerable to infection.

7. Don’t get a pedicure if you have bug bites, bruises, scratches, scabs or poison ivy.

8. DO NOT get one if you have broken skin or lesions on your feet or legs. 

9.  Consult your doctor before getting a pedicure if you have a weakened immune system (such as diabetes, Lupus, etc).

10. Be sure that only clean, properly disinfected instruments are used in your pedicure. 

11. Find out if instruments and supplies that cannot be disinfected, such as certain files, orangewood sticks, gloves and other items, are disposed after every client?

12. The technician should do an examination, ask you relevant health questions and document your answers; clearing you for spa treatment. If not, they are not following the standard regulations.  

13. Spas/salons are supposed to keep records of all clients and their relevant health information. Find out if there is such a record keeping system.

14. Leave the salon if you have any doubts about its cleanliness.

15. Ideally, look for a “medi” spa that uses an autoclave to sterilize instruments. 

Some Additional Tips To Further Reduce Your Risks

1. Insist that your toenails be cut straight across-not rounded-to prevent in-grown nails.

2. Say no to aggressive cuticle manipulation and cutting. Your cuticles are God's natural protection, sealing your nails so that bacteria and fungus cannot penetrate to more vulnerable living tissue in your underlying nail matrix.

3. Say no to emery buffing blocks, which leave your nails wide open for fungal infections. Ask your technician to use a ridge filler instead or look into a new product which will naturally enhance your nails and cover minor imperfections, Natural Nail Boost.

4. Bring your own base coat polish.  Choose varieties that are formaldehyde, toluene and DBP free.   Here are some links to polishes approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association:  

Zoya   Dr's Remedy  Dani-Pro

There are some risks involved in getting a pedicure, but these risks are manageable and can be reduced by following the suggestions here.  Relaxation and stress relief aren’t the only benefits to having regular foot care.  Removing the dead skin and calluses improves comfort as well as appearance, and may prevent you from developing dry skin heel cracks.  Pedicurists may also use foot reflexology while giving pedicures. This helps stimulate blood flow to your feet and legs as well as promoting relaxation.  Lastly, if your toes are prettier, you’re more likely to keep them out in the open…in the fresh air and sunshine, which are the two healthiest things for your feet!  

Break out your cute sandals and head to your local nail spa (make sure to do your research first!) and have a beautifying medi-pedi…then take a relaxing walk on the beach!

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