If you prefer doing your nails from a salon, the chances of contracting a toenail fungal infection and other viral and bacterial infections are high. However, this depends on the sanitation levels of your salon. If you choose a clean salon, you will not be at risk for infections. It is, however, important to be aware of the risks and minimize them as much as you can.
Why Salon Pedicures Put You at Risk of Toenail Fungus
They are communal facilities – The fungi causing toenail fungus thrives in damp, warm and public environments. If the foot bath, for example, is not disinfected after each customer, you are at high risk of going home with an infection.
Whirlpool footbaths – Many salons use the Jacuzzi style foot baths. It might not be easy keeping the baths clean. If they do not observe the right sanitary measures fungi will either grow in the pipes or filters. If this is the case, the infection will spread faster than a wildfire.
Poor training – Some salon staff does not have the right sanitation skills, but this is varied with states. Some states are more affected with untrained staff than others. Regulatory bodies will not be happy with you if they catch you with untrained salon staff.
The nail cleaning method used – many salons use the invasive nail cleaning technique. They often push the cuticles deep to achieve a clean nail finish. This procedure increases the likelihood of the fungus entering the nail. It can as well result to ingrown toenails and other injuries.
Chemicals used – nail polish and nail lacquers are strong chemicals. Continuous use leads to dehydrated nails. If used for a long time, it results in brittle and weak nails. With such nails, you are more prone to toenail infections.
Use of the same equipment – many salons use porous equipment like sponge toe separators and nail files communally. But, a new set should be used for each customer. Sterilizing such tools is not easy, and the salon will be putting their patients at the risk of infections.
Deep cleaning – this narrows down to the biofilm. It can quickly build up in the drainage system and foot baths if the salon does not perform regular deep cleans. What is biofilm, it is the accumulation of skin, nails, hair, lotion residues and particles that remain after a pedicure. Bacteria and fungi thrive in such. If the salon does not contact regular deep cleans, the fungi and bacteria will multiply to uncontrollable levels. It will be resistant to disinfectants. Even if the foot bath looks clean from your eyes, there could be deadly fungi behind the scenes.
Symptoms of Affected Nails
A cut on the toe – This might have happened from invasive cleaning. The technician will notice it, and they should stop immediately. If you, however, see this from home, clean the wound with an alkaline solution, dry it and apply a sterile bandage.
Itchy, sore and tender toenails – this is among the first signs of toenail fungus. If you experience it, treat your nails immediately to prevent the infection from spreading.
Pain in the big toenail – such pain might be as a result of a fungi infection or an ingrown toenail caused by pushing of cuticles back during a pedicure. Identify the cause and take action immediately.
Ridges on the toenail – this is a sign that your toes are developing a fungi infection, and especially if they start feeling brittle.
Boils on the ankles and feet – if you get this one, visit your doctor immediately. You might be put on antibiotics to stop the infection.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, it might be an indicator that your toenails are affected, and you should see your doctor immediately. If you picked the infection from a salon, it might take weeks for the symptoms to show. For this reason, patients do not relate the infection with the salon, and the spread continues. If you are sure that you got the infection from your salon, approach the management to protect future clients.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Nail Salon
Check their credentials
Before committing to a salon, ask them to show you their certificates of operation. Reputable salons display such details on a visible view. In addition to that, make sure that the technicians are qualified and that the one working on you is a specialized toe technician. You can prove this by asking for their license. If they are qualified, they will proudly display their cosmetology certificates. If otherwise, look for another salon.
Ask how they clean their footbaths
We have already pointed out how footbaths can be a nest to fungi and bacteria. If you keep your feet in such a bath, you will leave with an infection. It is, therefore, important to get a bath from a salon which disinfects their footbaths between clients and at night after the last customer.
The accumulation of biofilm increases the risk of fungi growth which is common with salons which do not deep clean their system often. For the sake of your health, ask them if they disinfect their spas daily and if they remove their whirlpool filters for disinfection. For the sake of your wellbeing, you can opt for simple foot tubs.