Nail Salons and Podiatry Business – Who is the True Winner?

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Nail salons are often viewed as a place of peace, tranquillity, a refuge. Somewhere to escape the our daily life stresses, sit back, relax and enjoy being pampered.

Especially after a long, tiresome week of standing on your feet and given our current Covid Lockdown situation, we have been walking on our feet A LOT! So you decide to treat yourself with a voucher that a friend provided on a past birthday to get a pedicure at your local salon. Little did you know that you were one step from exposing your newly painted toes to a fungal foot infection.

Sadly enough, when the correct cross infection protocols are not taken, nail salons are a minefield for the vast majority of fungi that wreak havoc on healthy toe nails.

Fungal nail is a common infection of the toe nail or finger nails that can cause discolouration, thickening or thinning of the nail plate and even pain. Once instigated these infections can be a battle to treat!

As a podiatrist, I see individuals everyday who come to Sutherland Podiatry Centre frantic and desperate to rid themselves of fungal toe nails. Many individuals are not aware where they caught the infection or even if it is there, however the majority report on a frequent denominator … regular visits to the nail salon.

Thus, the correlation is as clear as day! Nail salons are a tropical paradise for the types of fungi that cause fungal nails. As a pedicure offers the potential for minor trauma to your skin and nails via the drill and in combination with little to no strong sanitisation measures creates a close call of infection to arise.

At Sutherland Podiatry Centre we provide a colourful variety of methods to eliminate fungal nail infections, as these fall under the stubborn category, but the best precaution as stated by a wise fellow is PREVENTION. Read on and follow the formula to discover if your selected nail salon is safe to ensure you remain fungal nail free.

Causes of Fungal Nails and Why might Nail Salons Increase your Risk?

A dermatophyte, yeast or non-dermatophyte mould infection are the common agents for fungal nail infections. They thrive in moist environments and are easily transmitted, making nail salons a prime candidate to host fungal infections if the correct precautions are not facilitated.

Toe nails are more likely to contract a fungal infection with the trauma induced via the practice nail technicians abide by. To make a this picture a bit clearer visualise this; your feet are currently soaking away in particular scented bath (who knows when it previously cleaned or what type of feet and nails were in there before you??), then the pedicurist begins to push the cuticles back whilst trimming away any dry skin and utilising sharp tools to clean the edges of your nails. Now if the nail salon and pedicurist are not adhering to best practice techniques, then this creates an environment for potential infective organisms to flock towards.

And on another note, at what point in time did you observe the nail technician remove the instruments from an autoclave or unwrap those tools from sterilised packaging?

But alas, this is your all – time favourite nail salon, and you’ve spent months grooming your pedicurist to follow your exact instruction. So that must mean they follow appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of fungal infection, right? Unfortunately, the answer is not what we expect…

Whilst copious nail salons abide by updated practice techniques when it comes to hygiene and sterilisation of tools, the true reality is that in Australia, regulations are not stringent in this aspect. As a result, as a regular consumer it is advantageous to be well – informed on the potential downfalls that can occur during your brief moment of bliss.

Nail salons are a common area where it is possible to both be exposed to infective organisms and sustain trauma to the nail or skin, thereby implicating the individual by creating a secondary portal of entry for pathogens to preside.

Ways to Protect Yourself:

Not only are fungal nails a burden to remove, the mere is sight is aesthetically displeasing. In this instance, take the following as a guide to ensure that your next leisure session does not equate to a long – term fungal infection:

  • Do not let the nail technician utilise sharp instruments such as scalpel blades or shaving devices

This can be when they attempt to remove cuticles, trim dead skin or clean beneath the nail plate.

  • If the pedicure spa tub does not look clean, drop the pedicure and go somewhere else instead
  • Avoid shaving your legs for at least 24 hours prior to your pedicure as small cuts or nicks from shaving can act as a potential breeding ground for microbes.

The main point to share is ensuring open communication with your nail salon technician. Do not be hesitant to ask the following:

  • How are the footbaths cleaned?
  • Does the salon use an autoclave to sterilise clippers and other metal work between customers
  • Does the salon properly dispose of items that can not be sterilised after using them once on a client such as nail files and wood tools
  • Do they wash/ replace the towels and toiletries used to dry a client’s feet each time?
  • Do they mind if you bring your own equipment … generally most safest
  • Does the technician wash their hands thoroughly between customers or wear disposable gloves between customers?

Talk to you soon


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