A pedicure is a lovely, relaxing experience—until you lose a toe thanks to infection. It sounds like a fake internet horror story, but it’s actually true and happened to a man in Indiana. But don’t worry. There’s no need to give up your pedicure habit forever. You just need to know how to stay safe (and sanitary).
The man in question, Kenneth Jackey, developed a massive infection in his right foot after receiving a pedicure at an Indiana salon where a razor was used to cut away dead skin on his foot. The combination of an unclear razor and unclean water resulted in the ensuing infection, which became so severe, Jackey’s right big toe had to be amputated entirely.
It’s actually illegal in Indiana salons to use razors in order to shave down and remove calluses on the feet. This is because they’re sharp and can cause bleeding and/or potential infections (like Jackey’s) and remove healthy as well as dead skin. So if you’re at a salon and see them being used, turn around and walk out. It’s not worth losing a digit to have silky-soft feet.
In addition to this, there are a number of other ways you can prevent germs and bacteria from spreading when you get a mani or a pedi.
Don’t shave the day of (or the day before)
I know. I only shave my legs for my pedicurist, too. But if you nick yourself, you’re literally giving an opening to bacteria and bugs. And even if you don’t gouge your knee (related question: how?!), you could still have a number of microscopic cuts on your legs that are invisible to the naked eye. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t big enough to let in bacteria.
Ask estheticians to not cut your cuticles
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, cutting your cuticles is a great way to get an infection. You should also make sure the manicurist or pedicurist is never forcefully pushing your cuticles back in a way that causes them to rip or bleed—it should be a gentle process after a long soak. If it hurts, they’re doing it wrong. And you’re paying for a service, so let them know!
Use a pumice stone
Yes, calluses are gross and you want them off your feet, but there’s a better way: pumice stones. And they should be disposable. If you don’t see your pedicurist opening up a brand new package, ask her to not use it.
These stones are a much safer alternative to scraping the dead skin off of your feet than a razor (and if you’re into in-home care, they’re an easy buy in many beauty stores).
Now go ahead. Get those tootsies done up right.