Perfect pedicures: Sandal season is here, but are your feet ready for their debut? Before you surrender your toes, brush up on pedicure health and safety

Monday, May 7, 2012
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Sure, you always wear flip-flops in the gym locker room and at the pool. But are you equally as cautious about your footsies at the salon? You may assume that the salon, a place of relaxation and luxury, is safe and clean, but that's not always the case. Unclean tools can cause skin infections, foot fungus or fungus under the toenails, especially if pores are open, says Dawn Zoellner, owner of All Dawn'd Up Salon & Day Spa in Jackson.

"The biggest, most contagious thing that happens is foot and toenail fungus. It's extremely contagious, and it comes from the tubs not being sanitized, especially tubs with jets," says Danea Johnson, owner of Concepts Styling Salon in Cape Girardeau. If there is a cut or torn cuticle during a pedicure, blood could be transferred and cause infection.

"All tools should be sanitized for a full 10 minutes, and immersed in an antibacterial medical-grade barbicide," says Johnson. Pedicurists at Concepts also flush the tubs twice at 10 minutes each between clients.

At All Dawn'd Up, workers scrub all tools and tubs with bleach between clients, and their foot soak also has an antiseptic in it, says Zoellner.

"We use disposable files. Each person gets a new file," she adds, so files are never used on multiple clients. "Why take the chance of getting a fungus?"

It's also important during a pedicure to make sure your toenails are kept in a square shape, says Zoellner. This lessens the chance of ingrown toenails, which are common -- and painful! -- in rounded nails.

Both Johnson and Zoellner worry about the continued use of razors to remove calluses from feet. Razors were banned by the Missouri State Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners in 2009, and it's illegal for salons to use them.

"If that happens, it is not good. They hold a lot of bacteria," says Johnson. "They're crawling with germs, and they're dangerous."

According to the board's website, "Credo blades, short handled devices similar to household razors, are specifically banned in state regulations as a health hazard. Using a blade to remove skin can cause bleeding, potential infections and remove healthy as well as dead skin. Calluses should be removed only by a licensed cosmetologist or manicurist, and using a pumice stone, file or other device that does not run the risk of cutting healthy skin."

Says Zoellner, "Calluses form on your feet to protect the feet; that's why we have calluses. We just want to keep them smooth."

If you have questions or concerns, it's absolutely OK to voice them: "Just be honest," says Zoellner. Don't be afraid to ask how the salon sanitizes or sterilizes its tools. It's also OK to watch the clients before you and make sure the tools and foot baths are cleaned between guests.

"You're the one paying, and pedicures are not cheap," says Johnson. "We always welcome anyone to ask questions. I don't think there's any proper etiquette. You should feel safe, first and foremost, and if you feel safe, then you can relax. If you're slightly nervous about catching germs or bacteria, then it's not a relaxing service."


What's in:

• French pedicures

• Bright, creme colors

What's out:

• Shiny finish

• "shatter" polish