Possibly the most common question we get as podiatrists everyday is "Are pedicures safe?"
A podiatrists point of view on pedicures is usually a little negative, mostly because we tend to see everything that goes wrong when pedicures go awry. It is fairly regular for us to see a patient coming in with an ingrown toenail or a bacterial or fungal infection, that seemed to start after a pedicure. All of that said, some common sense suggestions can allow my wife and others to continue to enjoy their pedicure fix without running in to serious problems.
There is a big difference between an instrument that is clean and one that is sterile. An instrument that is properly sterilized can not transmit any germs. An instrument that is cleaned with a topical cleansing or disinfecting agent can still transmit germs to the next customer. In order for a tool to be sterilized an autoclave is required. This is an oven like device that uses pressurized steam at high temperatures to kill any and all germs. You can ask your favorite pedicure place if they have an autoclave on site. If not, bringing your own utensils is a good alternative. You can purchase your own set at your local beauty store.
Nails should always be cut straight across in the front whenever possible. A tool with a straight edge should be used, and rounding the edges or digging out the corners of the nails should be avoided, as this practice can actually cause ingrown nails. The use of razor to remove corns and calluses should also be avoided. The gentle use of a pumice stone is generally acceptable, but if you have more significant callus build up that causes pain this may require the professional attention of a podiatrist. If a foot soak is performed, a new disposable bin or liner should be used on each customer. If you suspect you may have a fungal nail infection, consult your podiatrist. Covering the nail with polish, won't make the problem go away and will likely make the condition worse.
Patient with diabetes, a history of poor circulation or those with significant compromise of their immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis or patients on chemotherapy) should, in general, avoid pedicures. These patients should always consult a podiatrist for regular care of their feet and nails.