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A manicure or pedicure can be quite relaxing, and in some cases, exactly what you need to calm your overworked nerves. Although the procedure looks absolutely harmless, it may not be as hygienic as you thought it would be. Here are a few things about manicures and pedicures your beautician wont tell you about.
Foot-baths - either attached or are the small ones that can be carried away - aren't hygienic at all. They are difficult to clean and often have crevices that are hard to reach. If you think that hot water and soap that is used during a pedicure might kill the bacteria, think again. A minimum of 100 degrees Celsius is required to kill any kind of bacteria. A disinfectant solution can be used, but the right concentration is important to achieve 100 % sterility. When used by a client the scales of skin and dirt collect in the crevices, and no amount of soap can kill the bacteria settled in those layers of dirt. These bacteria are capable of causing boils and rashes, and since these rashes appear a number weeks after the treatment they can never be traced back to the salon/parlour.
Ok, so calluses look awful but they don't always need to be removed. If you want your calluses removed ensure that they are removed using a scrub ( pumice stone) or a chemical callus softener should suffice. But never allow your technician to use a blade and shave or cut off the calluses. Cutting is cutting, and there is no knowing what you are exposing your open wound to. Even if the blade he/she uses is from a sterile pack and is the disposable kind, remember that you will have to eventually put your feet back into the tub. The water already contains dirt from your feet, not to mention dirt from multiple customers. Don't take the risk, deep soaks and gentle daily scrubbing will completely take care of this problem. Not to mention - the more you cut, the thicker the calluses will grow back.
Nail salon tools like pumice stones, emery boards, nail buffers and foam toe separators cannot be sanitized in an autoclave, and if your salon is not changing them after each use then it's not safe. You are better off bringing your own. Another sign you should look out for is that if you see any white residue on the nail file it clearly means it has been used on someone else. The pores which make the pumice stone coarse and helps in getting rid of the dead skin cannot be cleaned very well and could spell trouble for you too!
You shouldn't shave before getting a pedicure, shaving your legs makes you more prone to infection as newly shaved legs have open pores (and often tiny nicks you can't see) . This makes you susceptible to infectious diseases. So don't be wary of showing off some stubble at the salon.
Many salons use Barbicide, UV light 'sterilizer' boxes, or other chemical solutions to disinfect their tools - which is legal and standard - but not totally effective at killing all bacteria and infection. The only solution that works completely is an autoclave, a machine used to sterilize equipment and supplies using high pressure and steam, which kills 100 percent of all infective organisms.
How can you find out if your salon is using an autoclave so that you're 100 percent protected? First, ask the salon manager how they disinfect their tools and then look for sealed sterilization pouches in which the instruments are sterilized. The color changes on the bag once correct sterilization conditions have been met and that the object inside the package has been sterilized. These pouches should ideally be opened in front of you.
Breaks in the skin can be microscopic or highly visible. They can either come in with the client via cuts, scratches, hangnails, bitten nails, insect bites, paper cuts, split cuticles, or be created in the salon. The tools which your beautician uses eg: callus-cutting tools and nail nippers, files, cuticle pushers and other instruments can and do scratch your skin. But just because no blood is visible, doesn't mean these portals of entry aren't susceptible to infective organisms. If you've ever had your nails filed and it momentarily feels "too hot in the corner" for even a second, then you've had the surface layer of your skin broken -- leaving it open for infection.
Like most businesses, most salons won't turn away paying costumers. Which means that people who are sick, have nail infections or foot fungus are being worked on next to you instead of being referred to an appropriate medical professional. The greatest danger of the nail salon is the transmission of infection from one client to another. And with millions of people whose immune systems are compromised by diabetes, HIV, cancer, hepatitis and other infective organisms booking services offered in these salons, many are dangerously susceptible to infection.
(You can take care of your feet yourself with products you can even buy online.)
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