The possible pitfalls of pedicures

Getting a quick pedicure may land your feet in more than just hot water.

Freshly painted toenails can give you such a lift, and getting someone else to slough off your rough skin and give those overworked feet some love is a great way to treat yourself and relax. 
 
While painting toenails seems a fairly harmless operation, it’s the other procedures that accompany the process that [can] carry some potential risks . Mel Egan just wanted fancy feet for her big night, but instead she spent the night hobbling.
 
“I went for a pedicure the morning of my 40th birthday party/surprise wedding. I went to a place I had been going to for years so I was comfortable there but [accidentally ] the girl sliced the bottom of my big toe with a razor. Cue much bleeding and the requirement to hop to the car to keep the pressure off,” tells Mel.
 
“I was so annoyed, and to top it all off they still made me pay for it!”
 
Nail technicians can carry out a variety of different procedures, some of which may involve 'skin penetration'. Because 'skin penetration' carries a risk of infection, the premises and procedures where skin penetration is conducted must comply with Public Health Regulations according to NSW Health .
 
 All technicians who carry out invasive skin treatments such as cuticle cutting or razor scraping must be registered with the local council and have adequate training. While, of course, there are many technicians who adhere to this, it is supremely difficult to police all of the salons that have popped up in the last five years due to increasing popularity of these services.
 
Mani- and pedicures have become the ‘fast food’ of the beauty industry but if you aren’t careful, you may get more than you paid for in some establishments. The issues are not confined to skin penetration mishaps but also problems of a more infectious nature, such as spreading fungal nail infections  due to unsanitary practices. 
3 pairs of painted toenails
Double dipping in solutions, polishes and powders can lead to spreading some certain infections.

“I don't necessarily love pedicures but I will have them to tidy my feet up and get them super smooth, I then maintain. I got a toe infection in the nail bed of my big toe once from a cheap chain salon, so will only go to my local salon now. I required antibiotics to get rid of it so it was pretty nasty,” says Kimberley Haines.

If you do have an infection or any other any foot-related issues, it is best to seek help from a relevant health care professional. Nail bars are not there to diagnose any foot problems you are experiencing says  (Podiatry)Board Director and Treasurer of the Australian Podiatry Association, Alexandra Viles.

“As an Allied Health Professional, equipped with years of university
study, we have the knowledge to recognise, diagnose and treat foot complaints . Those which are commonly overlooked, based on past experience, include fungal nail conditions, verrucas, corns, bacterial porokeratosis (due to excessive sweating), ingrown toenails, candida or thrush infections, not to mention the soft tissue complaints, fibromas, lesions, forging bodies …”

Almost anyone can adequately paint toenails, however a vast array of foot problems may go unnoticed to the untrained eye when dealing with your tootsies.

“Podiatrists [can] play an important role in monitoring disease and managing lower limb issues. During our training we learn and are assessed on patient demographics, disease processes and their relationship with our patients,” tells Alexandra.

If you solely want a foot massage and your toenails done, then provided your local salon’s infection control standards are up to date, it should be straight forward, but perhaps you should think twice before you let them at your feet with a razor.

“There’s a risk of infection, if they are unaware of someone’s  medical  history, and then the [technicians] are putting themselves at risk also of blood-born diseases. They are not trained for [blade or other] safe sharps use and disposal, also their wound dressing knowledge would [most likely] be lacking,” warns Alexandra.

Whether you’re looking for a lick of paint to brighten up your toes or a complete “cut and polish” of your rhino feet, ensure you find a reputable salon with the requisite health and safety requirements. If you are unsure about their practises, do not be afraid to ask, because it’s your foot health that [could be] at risk.
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