Pedicures Don’t Just Keep the Diabetic Toes Pretty

Vohra Wound Physicians is a physician group providing wound care management consulting solutions and services in post-acute care facilities.

process of pedicure at beauty salon

Pedicures Aren’t Just for Women

There’s no difference between a pedicure for a man and one for a woman aside from a pretty pop of color. Who in society said that pedicures and manicures are for females only? Whoever that person may be, they are oh so very wrong. Pedicures are a part of good foot hygiene and cleanliness should speak to both women and men. 

Not only do you get a relaxing foot massage, but you also get the soles of your feet pampered as well. In that sole pampering, your tech (who should be carefully chosen), will inspect the health of your feet.  Some professionals do not recommend that diabetics get their feet taken care of in a salon or day spa. It is only right that we think we can assume that every spa is sanitary, but everyone’s definition of clean is not the same. 

Nicks and cuts in the feet can create a prime breeding ground for bacteria and the germs from numerous other people can creep and crawl, making infection inevitable. 

So, let’s run down what should be done if we’re going to get those toes dancing in a salon or a spa. 

They May Not Like it, But You Tell Them like It Is

If you prefer to go to a salon or day spa to have your pedicure, you need to scout for a spa and a tech that will give you the best service for the safety and security of a diabetic. 

The first step is to make a list of day spas you think you may want to go to. Call each one. Ask if they have a tech that has experience performing pedicures on patients who are diabetics. If the answer is no, kindly pass to the next establishment on your list. 

Once you find a tech who has experience with diabetics, be sure to make it clear that for your health and wellness you must see the foot bowl get sanitized, it cannot be sanitized before you arrive. 

If Your A1C is in the Green Zone It’s a Go!

It is of utmost importance to discuss that diabetics can’t get pedicures any time they please. If your glucose is not well-controlled, we need to postpone the Pedi. If your toenails require trimming, make an appointment with your podiatrist to get it done in a way that you know will be safe. This is especially true if you have neuropathy. 

If the tech gouges too deeply into your nail bed, files the edges of the toenail down too deep, or grinds calluses down to the tissue, a dangerous ground is being laid. This may sound extreme but it occurs. A pedicure can, with just a nick, leave you with a chronic wound needing management by a wound care specialist

When Infection Sets In From a Pedicure

One of the biggest points needed to be understood, learned, memorized, and made into a mantra for everybody, not just diabetics, is that a pedicure is in no way, shape, or form a substitute treatment for ingrown toenails and fungal infections. Repeat it with me “A pedicure is not a substitute treatment for ingrown toenails and fungal infections”. 

There are several types of infections that can be contracted during a pedicure. A nasty fungal infection sits at the top of the list. If you see a tech touch one person’s feet then go to touch another person’s feet without either changing gloves and/or washing hands there is a chance that fungus could have been spread between those two clients. It is up to you to be an observer and speak out if you see something that does not seem right.

Let’s talk Staph. A microscopic nick in your skin can let Staph in. Staph, Hepatitis B and C, Plantar Warts, and a multitude of pathogens can get into your body to wreak havoc on more systems than just your feet. Mycobacterium fortuitum is caused by the spread of the microbe nontuberculous mycobacterium. This is a common infection caused by pedicures. Painful sores develop that initially look like small spider bites, but develop into boils. The boils continue to grow until they are pus-filled. 

In a healthy person, this infection can take multiple rounds of broad-spectrum antibiotics to administer full treatment. If a diabetic gets it, it can result in horrific consequences such as cellulitis, sepsis, gangrene, or even amputation. The unfortunate reality for diabetics that a pedicure can end with a critical outcome if proper protocol is not followed. 

Steps for a Safe Salon Pedicure

When it comes time to get your feet taken care of, the first thing you need to do is check yourself. Not your feet, your glucose. What are your sugars looking like? If your glucose is controlled enough for a Pedi, then check your feet. Do you have any nicks, cuts, or open sores? If you do then you need to call your podiatrist rather than your pedicurist.

Do not shave your legs 48 hours before your Pedi-appointment. Shaving can leave micro-cuts in your flesh that you did not see or feel when they occurred but are big enough to leave you prone to infections. 

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that the salon you go to must be impeccably clean. Bring your personal nail kit to every appointment and take it home with you when you leave. Be sure that the tech who does your pedicure knows that your toenails are not to be cut or filed in a curved shape. This is not an aesthetic choice, this is a medical requirement. 

Remember to advise your tech that under no circumstances are your cuticles to be trimmed.  Additionally, if pumice stone is used it should be used gently. Pumice stones can leave microscopic tears in the feet and create a risk for infection. 

When you make your appointments ask if you can have a standing appointment of being the first available appointment of the day. 

I Need My Doctor

If you are worried about your safety getting a pedicure in the salon, have the pedicure done by your podiatrist or check into having someone come into your home is trained from a medical standpoint and will not endanger the health of your feet.

If you have a loved one that lives in a skilled nursing facility, check to see if they have CNAs that will do pedicures. Get your loved one their own set of nail kit tools. If your beloved one is a lady, buy her favorite color of nail polish so that she has her supplies.

Heidi West is a medical writer that writes about healthcare and technology in the medical industry with a focus on wound care.

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