The day before my own wedding marked the first time I ever enjoyed a full manicure and pedicure. Unfortunately, it also marked the first time a stranger with butterfingers slipped and shaved a great big swath of skin off of my foot with an unsterilized tool. I was lucky enough to be wearing wedding day shoes that wouldn’t rub on the newly shorn wound (thanks French Sole!), but I can imagine that there are other brides who don’t get off so easily. Also, I was fortunate enough not to end up with some weird infection!
What a boooooring topic, right? Well, thousands of brides-to-be make manis and pedis a part of their pre-nuptial beauty rituals, and thousands of folks end up at their local MDs every year because of nail salon related infections. Two people even died in 2006! Now I feel extra lucky, because I really didn’t even think about anything relating to safety when I was sitting down in the spa chair and letting someone take what looked like a ginger grater to my toesies.
Erlanger recommends mani/pedi fans take the following rules to heart:
1. Ask nail salons about their disinfection practices. Only patronize salons that sterilize their instruments.
2. For instruments that cannot be sterilized, such as nail files and pumice stones, make sure the nail technician uses disposable versions.
3. Patronize salons that use “pipe-less” whirlpools with external impellors that can be easily accessed for thorough cleaning, very similar to physical therapy whirlpool tubs. Hidden tubing cannot be properly drained.
4. Clean, plastic soaking tubs or pans are generally safe and good alternatives to poorly designed whirlpools.
For added safety, you can always bring your own nailcare tools and polish with you to the salon. Don’t walk around with bare feet–bring your own flip flops if the salon doesn’t provide the disposable sort. Make sure your manicurist washes her hands, uses sterilized tools, and thoroughly cleans out foot spas after they’re used. If you voice your concerns and the salon staff balk, they’re not worth your time or money.
Like I said, I was lucky. The spot where an inept pedicurist scraped off my skin didn’t get infected. Heck, it didn’t even bother me on my wedding day, though it did smart for an entire week afterward. Now you tell me: What’s your worst mani/pedi story?