Pedicure Season is Upon Us…But How Clean is Your Salon of Preference?

pedi-feet-wash*I never felt totally comfortable getting a mani-pedi, if I’m being totally honest with you. Did I actually see the tools being sanitized in that blue stuff? I don’t think so. And when the technician would motion for me to “come on over” after just finishing with the last customer, did I didn’t witness anything significant being done with the tools that were used? Again, no.

So now, to hear from an actual podiatrist, that we’d better be real careful before heading out to our favorite mani-pedi-place, I figure I’d better stop being so damn polite! Put my big-girl pants on, speak up and…oh yeah, share with you some of the good tips I’ve learned.

You’re welcome.

First and foremost, bring your own darn tools!Why the heck did I never think of this before. I just assumed it wouldn’t be allowed. But, duh! Come to think of it, why would I allow someone working on my body, who I am actually paying, to tell me what they are allowed to use on MY body? Its not like their doctors and I’m telling them what meds to prescribe.

But those are just my observations. Listen to what Dr. Jackie Sutera, a New York-based podiatrist, Dr. Ella Toombs, a dermatologist in Washington, DC, and Crystal Clements, the manager at Eve Salon in New York City have to say on things we just need to know before we book our next appointment.

Make sure the metal tools they’re using are sterilized between each client…

When you walk into a salon, look for tools soaking in that blue liquid disinfectant (a common brand is Barbicide). This effectively kills most microbial life that can lead to infection, in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines. Of course, some salons are better than others about cleaning, so make sure your pedicurist is using freshly sanitized metal tools on you.

Some salons might be using UV lights to sanitize tools — you know, those machines that look like toaster ovens (not autoclaves, which kill 100 percent of infective organisms using high pressure and steam). But Dr. Sutera says that popping tools into one of those isn’t a great way to sterilize. “It’s a six-hour process to sterilize instruments,” she says. “You have to get them at really, really high temperatures; you have to soak them in different solutions; they have to be scrubbed. So putting them in that little toaster oven in between clients for a few minutes? I don’t think that that’s really doing much.”

…and know the tools that should never be used for more than one client.

Any non-metal tools should be used on you and only you, since they’re not sterilizable. Sutera tells her patients to bring their own nail files and foot pumices and sterilize them at home. Some salons give customers individual file kits, which include nail files, foot files, an orange wood stick and nail buffers, for each new pedicure client. You can then keep these tools and bring them back in to be used during your next pedicure. But again, staying alert is key here — keep an eye on your pedicurist to ensure that you’re not coming into contact with any used non-metal tools. “That’s a big red flag,” Clements says.

Never let them turn on the bubbles while you soak your feet.

Whatever you do at a pedicure salon, do not let the pedicurist turn on the bubbles in the foot baths. “The jets in the whirlpool bath can harbor bacteria and fungus,” says Dr. Sutera.

Sutera estimates that she sees about 10 to 12 patients a week that come in with fungal or viral infections, like warts and athlete’s foot, caused by build up in whirlpool foot baths. If the skin is cut by accident during a pedicure, you can also get bacterial infections by coming into contact with bacteria from previous customers at your station. She recommends finding a salon that uses pipeless foot baths or individual bath liners to further avoid cross-contamination with previous clients. Plus, make sure that your salon runs a sanitization cycle for the required minimum of 10 minutes between each client.

To be extra safe, Toombs suggests taking the time to dry the spaces in between your toes, too. “The moisture in those areas is where organisms like fungi and bacteria tend to grow,” she says.

Oh, and avoid those tempting manicure-pedicure deals.

Sutera says to never get the “Wednesday Special” — you know, those discounted manicure-pedicure deals — since they usually involve crowded salons and quick turnover. This, she says, doesn’t always lead to the most thorough sanitization of foot baths and tools between clients. She also notes that weekends and evenings are typically busier in salons, so try to schedule an appointment for a weekday morning if you can.

“I know these are a lot of rules,” says Sutera. “But I think in the long run, it’s less expensive, less painful and much more enjoyable than visiting your podiatrist every week and dealing with infection and minor surgeries.”

There is Oh so many more useful items to be cautious about so please head on over to Huffington Post to hear what else these professionals have to say. To your health!

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