woman getting a pedicure | Idaho Diabetic Foot DoctorsFor many Americans, spa appointments are a special treat. Receiving any treatment—a body massage, a salt scrub, or a facial mask—can bolster their self-image and mental well-being. 

However, people with diabetes do not always have the luxury of scheduling an appointment without first assessing their health. Pedicures, for instance, can be problematic, increasing patients’ risk of both injury and infection.

The Risks of Getting a Salon Pedicure When You Have Diabetes

Pedicures are seen as a relaxing luxury, but many customers forget that a pedicure is, in a great many ways, a rather intensive procedure. During an ordinary pedicure, a nail technician may:

  • Soak the customer’s feet
  • Apply an exfoliating rub to remove dead skin
  • Remove cuticles and shape toenails

During the latter stages of a pedicure, nail technicians must often exercise an abundance of caution to avoid accidentally cutting customers’ feet and toes. But mistakes do happen, and they happen with alarming regularity. Under ordinary circumstances, a mistake can be amended with an apology or voucher.

However, people with diabetes are more likely to suffer serious injuries for the following reasons.

You Might Not Notice an Injury

Diabetes can cause nerve damage, sometimes referred to as diabetic neuropathy. The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy could include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Cramps
  • General weakness

Since diabetic neuropathy can cause numbness, salon customers with diabetes may not realize if and when they have sustained a minor injury. Without proper treatment, such minor injuries could become infected, causing larger problems than the initial injury.

Ingrown Toenails Can Cause Serious Problems

Many nail technicians have years of experience. However, if a technician makes a minor mistake—perhaps by cutting a toenail too short or trimming it at the wrong angle—customers could develop ingrown toenails.

Ingrown toenails can be a painful inconvenience for anyone, but they could have particularly significant consequences for visitors with diabetes. If an infection develops, patients may need surgery to remove the affected toenail and prevent the spread of bacteria.

Many Salons Are Bacterial Breeding Grounds

Idaho state law requires that cosmetologists, barbers, and beauty salons adhere to stringent safety regulations. These regulations direct nail technicians to regularly clean and sanitize tools and foot baths.

Unfortunately, not all technicians take their responsibilities seriously. If a salon fails to enforce proper safety procedures, a customer could be exposed to fungi and bacteria after simply coming into contact with an infected foot file, cuticle clipper, or callus remover.

Keeping Diabetic Feet Safe During a Pedicure

People with diabetes often find themselves in a difficult position: while their feet are more vulnerable to infection and injury, they must often go to greater lengths to care for their feet than people without diabetes.

If you are considering getting a pedicure, take the following steps to minimize your risk:

Exercise Caution

Even if you already scheduled an appointment, you should rethink a pedicure if you have any cuts, sores, or infections on or around your feet.

Avoid Shaving

Shaving your legs can leave small, near-invisible cuts and nicks on your legs. These cuts might not be noticed by people with diabetic neuropathy, making it very difficult for them to tell whether they have been injured during a pedicure.

Find the Right Salon

If you have any questions or concerns about a salon’s sanitation practices, ask to speak to a manager. Any reputable salon should have no qualms explaining their procedures and showing you how they sterilize tools between visitors.

Be Honest With Your Technician

Customers with diabetes should be upfront and honest with their technician, telling them that they have diabetes and asking that their nails not be cut too short or too close to the skin. 

However, even if you have taken all the right steps to keep yourself safe during a pedicure, you could still develop an unexpected infection. While infections can make everyday life painful, our experienced Caldwell, Idaho, podiatrist could help you ensure your safety and prevent future injuries.

Dr. P. Roman Burk
Providing experienced private practice podiatry services in the Caldwell and Meridian, ID area since 2007.