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Mani/Pedi Safety


In addition to providing a protective barrier, our fingernails and toenails play an essential role in our appearance. Along with the face, neck, and hands, the nails are one of the few areas of the body to receive consistent exposure. Thus, nail appearance carries a significant cosmetic impact. In addition, nails can have psychological impact, with the appearance of groomed and clean nails being important for employment prospects, meeting with clients and conducting business, and social functions. Everyone wants to look like they take care of themselves! Here are the updated recommendations from The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology regarding safety during manicures and pedicures:

  • Pay particular attention to the licensing of the salon and the technician. By California law these certificates should be on display.
  • Avoid pedicare footbaths unless they have a regularly cleaned filtration system that utilizes circulating bleach. Don't be afraid to ask how the system is cleaned!
  • Bring your own instruments or ensure that the salon's instruments have been sterilized via autoclave. An autoclave is a machine that sterilizes using steam and pressure. It usually looks like a metal box. If you don't see it in the salon--ask.
  • Avoid leg shaving/waxing for more than 24 hours prior to pedicures. These procedures can open microscopic cuts in the skin and allow bacteria to enter and cause infections.
  • Do not let the technician trim or cut your cuticles. You need your cuticles to attach the skin to the nail and prevent a "pocket" from forming that can be prone to infection. Cuticles may be pushed back gently no more than once a week.
  • Do not let the technician clean under your nails with a sharp instrument.
  • Limit the frequency and time of nail salon UV exposure. Many nail drying lamps emit UV rays, which can cause premature aging of your hands and skin cancer. Ask the salon operator what type of lights they use and choose LED lights when possible. Consider UV-protective eyeglasses and finger-less gloves if you have frequent nail treatments.

With proper precautions, you can continue to use nail cosmetics safely.

If you have nail damage, color changes, splitting, or signs of infection, see a board-certified dermatologist.

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