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Medi-Pedi: The ‘safe’ Pedicure

Avoiding Fungal Nail Infections during a Pedicure

Typical fungal nail infection

We have all heard the stories on the current affairs programs of fungal nail infections running rife through suburban pedicure salons.  Perhaps it has even happened to you.  It need not be this way.  When you select a nail care salon, there are several questions that you need to ask to ensure you remain free of infection and contamination from previous clients.

Pedicure Salon Nail Infections

  • If I am to soak in a tub of water, how has the tub been cleaned since the last use ?
  • Am I the first person to use this particular water ?
  • If water is mechanically pumped in a spa, ask how often the workings of the spa are cleaned. Tip – the honest answer will probably be never.
  • Are the pedicure tools presented to you in a sterile pack ?   Note: Any tools used in a pedicure may draw blood. They should be sterilised between clients.  Tools should be presented to you in a sterile pack that changes colour when the process has been properly performed.  You can ask to check the packet.
  • The number one pathogen that is spread in a pedicure salon is fungal.  This is because it is the hardiest bug and the hardest to kill.  Next most common would be bacterial infection.  Viral infections would be least easily transferred.
  • Viral infections can be the most serious – they include HIV and Hepatitis B and C.  Fortunately, these virus are relatively easy to kill.  Salons that do no sterilisation do not protect you adequately against these life – threatening diseases.
  • Pedicure infection

    Pedicure nail infection picture

    Bacterial infections are a little harder to prevent but still relatively straight forward.  This can be achieved with many common cleaning agents including bleach, dettol, alcohol and chlorhexidine (amongst others) when properly used.  Resistant bacteria do certainly exist and these pathogens would resist low level disinfection.  They are killed by autoclave.

  • Fungal infections are by far the hardest to prevent. On the upside, these infections are generally not a threat to life and limb. Things that don’t kill fungi include:  alcohol, heat less than 121 degrees, blue light ‘sterilisers’ and rinsing / scrubbing.  Things that do kill fungi make a much briefer list.
  • Fungi is killed by high end antimicrobial soaks such as Aidal and Bactol Blue where a soak time of around 4 hours is required.  The ‘gold – standard’ of fungi killing preparations is to autoclave all tools between uses (or to use disposable implements). With autoclaves costing between $5,000 to $10,000, you need to consider if the salon you choose values your health enough to incur this sort of costs.
  • Nail polish pots can also be a source of infection.  If the person before you has a fungal infection, using the paint and brush that was used on them will nicely paint the fungal infection in place on your nail where it is easy for it to feast on your nail tissue. It is wise to take your own polish to the salon and wiser still to insist that your salon use a nail polish that actively resists fungal infections.

When you think about it – who is likely to have been the client before you at a nail salon ?  Someone whose nails are ugly because of fungus ?  Someone who often frequents nail salons and is therefore prone to already having fungal nail infection ?

As a podiatrist, every day we see people who after one, $30 trip to a nail salon, need to see us six weekly for 12 months or more.  Please give some thought to finding a pedicurist who can guarantee your safety.  The following Brisbane beauty technicians have provided us with proof that they adhere to (at least) minimal safety guidelines:

We invite eligible practitioners to contact us and provide their credentials.

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