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CHICAGO -- Open season for exposed toes is right around the corner, and hundreds of thousands of Americans will flock to spas for pedicures. But is your favorite spa the healthiest environment for your feet, and can you protect your toes from potential harm?
Salons and spas featuring nail services are rapidly growing into a billion-dollar industry. In fact, 24 percent of Americans use pedicures as part of their regular foot care regimen, according to a March, 2005 national consumer survey conducted by http://OurFootDoctor.com . Because the cosmetics industry is not required to adhere to the same sterilization regulations for the tools they use as medical offices and hospitals, physicians are seeing an increase in several transmissible diseases.
"Unfortunately, many cosmetologists remain uneducated about the dangers of spreading disease and may unknowingly be jeopardizing the health of their clients," said Dr. Carolyn L. Siegal, attending physician at Cedars-Sinai and http://OurFootDoctor.com advisor .
During a pedicure small breaks in the skin can occur. When nail tools such as cuticle pushers or nippers are used on these breaks, or on paper cuts and other open areas in the skin, they can transfer blood and/or bacteria from one customer to another, if the tools are not properly sterilized between appointments. The only way to fully eradicate tools from infectious organisms is through a process called autoclaving, which involves treating them with intense heat and pressure. Autoclaving uses sophisticated and expensive equipment and is often only found in medical environments.
"The medical community, as a whole, is treating more and more patients for skin, nail and viral infections as a direct result of manicure and pedicure services," said Siegal. "However, there are steps that can be taken to prevent an uncomfortable and potentially painful experience during and after a pedicure."
Siegal offers the following five considerations before putting your toes into another person's care.
1. Inquire into exactly how the spa cleans its tools. The preferred
system is autoclaving over the typical ultraviolet light system. Also,
be aware that Barbacide, the blue liquid often used in salons to clean
tools, only disinfects and may not kill contagious hepatitis C or
2. Consider carrying your own tools. The best way to protect yourself is
to purchase your own nail kit and carry it with you to appointments.
You can also use your nail kit at home between appointments for easy maintenance.
3. Check out the spa and look for signs of cleanliness. Are the work
surfaces clean and dry? Do the nail technicians wash their hands
between clients? Do the tubs use disposable liners? Larger tubs can
harbor bacteria in their filtration systems and should be avoided.
Also, look for the correct association and government licenses. These
should be clearly posted.
4. Inform your nail technician about any cuts, medications or health
conditions you have that may affect your treatment. This is especially
important if you are on blood thinning medications, if you are
diabetic or have a communicable disease.
5. Pay attention during and after the service. The service should never
be painful during or after the treatment. Monitor your toes and feet
for discolorations, sores or pain. If you do experience something
unusual with your nails or skin, contact your physician or podiatrist.