Manicures and pedicures can be relaxing and rejuvenating, but they can also expose you to germs that can cause an infection.

Whenever an open wound is exposed to skin-skin or skin-surface contact, you have a chance of picking up bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can develop into an infection. The most common infections acquired at the nail salon are warts and nail fungus. 

Taking these precautions can help you avoid an infection:

  1. Do not get a manicure or pedicure if you have an infection on your hands or feet.
  2. Do not get a manicure or pedicure if you have any open wounds, including bug bites, bruises, scratches, cuts, scabs, and poison ivy.
  3. Look to make sure the technician has a license. In the United States, the salon must be approved by the state health department and the nail technician should have a certificate from the board of cosmetology. 
  4. If considering a “fish pedicure” or “fish spa” where a tub of water is filled with small fish called Garra rufa that eat away dead skin on the feet, know that there are infection risks involved and that several states have banned the use of fish pedicures.
  5. The nail technician should wear gloves and perform hand hygiene before the manicure or pedicure.
  6. The metal tools the nail technicians use should be heat-sterilized in a sterilizer. Some salons will use chemical solutions or UV light boxes to disinfect tools, which is legal and standard but not totally effective in killing all of the germs. Nail salon tools like pumice stones, emery boards, nail buffers, and foam toe separators cannot be properly sterilized so they should be thrown out after each use. 
  7. Don’t allow the technician to shave your skin calluses. If your calluses are thick and uncomfortable, opt for a deep soak (often with a chemical solution) and scrubbing to remove them.
  8. To prevent infection, do not allow the technician to cut or forcefully push back your cuticles. If you must push them back, only do so gently after a shower or bath.
  9. Shave your lower legs after getting a pedicure, not before. That means not shaving your lower legs for at least 24 hours before you get a pedicure. If you nick yourself while shaving, a pedicure could put you at risk for an infection.
  10. Know what products are used in your artificial nails as the substances used can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you develop a rash or other reaction, tell your doctor what products you used.

If you have questions or concerns about caring for your nails, contact Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center by calling 330-425-7600 to set up an appointment in Twinsburg with Dr. Monique S. Cohn.