For mere mortals like us who frequent the neighbourhood beauty parlour or salon, having our nails done using the very same instruments used on the customer before us is a fact of life. We accept that as normal, and probably won’t bother to protest that the instruments weren’t even sanitized. Never mind if the nail brush that’s being used on our fingernails has just been used to scrub somebody else’s grubby toenails. Maybe we’ll understand once we catch a fungal infection or some other disease. But why wait until then?
Here are some tips on how you can avoid catching an infection while getting a manicure or pedicure.
- Have your own manicure or pedicure kit and bring it with you when you visit your parlour. Make it a habit to clean and disinfect your nail grooming instruments before using them.
- It’s better to bring your own nail polish, base coat, top coats, and nail polish remover. There are times when you rely on the nail polish selection of the parlour and end up disappointed because none of their available nail polish colours suit you.
- Check out how clean the salon is. It is not enough that you are chummy-chummy with the beauticians. You have to make cleanliness your top priority as well. After all, bacteria and infections breed in not-so-clean territory.
- If you’re reluctant to bring your own manicure kit for fear of being branded as “meticulous” or “snobbish”, you’ll just have to make do with the salon’s kit. But for your own good, insist politely but firmly that all the instruments are cleaned and disinfected before they are used on you.
- Pedicure tubs, basins, and steps-tools should be scrubbed thoroughly and disinfected after every client.
- Manicurists should wash their hands before and after each customer. And as customer, make sure that you wash your hands or feet before getting your nails done.
- Use only fresh, clean towels. Do not allow your manicurist to use dirty towels on you.
Common skin and nail infections
that you can get from bad manicure or pedicure
- Athlete’s foot: Caused by a fungus that grows in the top skin layer. Can cause itching, burning, peeling, cracking, and blistering of the skin between the toes, on the heels and soles, or anywhere on the foot. Can be transmitted through dirty towels, pedicure tubs, and basins.
- Fungal nail infections: Caused by fungi that attacks the fingernail, toenail, or nail bed. Can start when the fungi get into small cuts in the skin around the nail, or through the opening between the nail and nail bed. Can cause nail discoloration or thickening. In worst cases, it can cause the nail to crumble, split, or even separate from the skin. Can be spread through infected towels, pedicure tubs and basins, and grooming items (nail clippers, cuticle sticks, etc.)
- Ringworm: Caused by a fungus, not a worm. Can cause red, itchy, peeling, cracking or scaling rashes on the hands, feet, or around fingernails. The rash may also form blisters. Can be transmitted through infected towels, tubs, basins, and grooming items.
- Warts: Occurs when the human papilloma virus (HPV) infects the top layer of skin. Common warts grow most often on the hands. Can be spread through direct contact, or by sharing infected items (towels, nail grooming instruments, etc.).
Unless you’re rich and famous enough to have an exclusive manicurist, or are willing pay extra to get home service, it’s cost-effective and safe if you just buy your own manicure set and bring it with you whenever you visit a salon. After all, a nail grooming kit is much cheaper than doctor’s fees and several days’ worth of antibiotics. You don’t want to catch somebody else’s fungal infection, do you?