Testing the Waters

No Laughing Matter

Women think of pedicures as a treat; something we do to spoil ourselves, an indulgence. That's why it beggars belief to think that having a pedicure can endanger our health, and yet, having a pedicure is one of the most common causes of toenail fungus. That's nothing to laugh about, since the fungus can lead to other conditions, some of them serious.

Ask Questions

Despite this, most of us walk into a salon and don't much pay attention to our surroundings. If that describes you, it's time to take a really good look at that place the next time you go in for a pedicure. Make sure you ask questions, too, lots of them.

Here's our top ten points to consider before you give your feet over to your technician's tender care.

1)    Notice your surroundings. You want to get a sense of general cleanliness.

2)    Look to see that the salon has plenty of ventilation and an air cleaning system in place.

3)    Most states require salons to place licenses on prominent display. If you don't see a license, it's time to get suspicious.

4)    Ask your pedicurist if she belongs to a professional organization such as the International Pedicure Association.

5)    A pedicurist who knows her stuff should first examine your feet and ask pertinent questions about your general health. If she doesn't, that's a sign you should cancel the pedicure.

6)     The ideal pedicurist washes her hands between clients and dons new disposable gloves.

7)    The salon should use fresh towels for each customer. Disposable towels are fine, too.

8)    Whirlpool tubs are of special concern. The bacteria found in them are a major cause of fungal infection, since fungus spreads with ease in the warm, wet environment. The best option is to patronize a salon that uses freestanding basins since the pedicurist will need to change the water between clients. It's even better if the tub is cleaned with bleach between clients.

Assess the basin of the whirlpool tub for cleanliness before you sit down. Ask the salon how often the whirlpool tubs are cleaned and ask them what method they use for disinfection. Ask about the whirlpool filter, too: is it cleared of hair and skin debris at least once a week?

9)    Don't shave your legs on the day you plan to go in for a pedicure. Look your skin over for cuts, blisters, and areas where your shoes might have rubbed because bacteria look for such small nicks and cuts as prime places to infect.

10)    If you do get an infection in spite of all your precautions, see your doctor right away, since toenail fungus requires immediate treatment.