With so many lawsuits connected to chronic infections, disfigurement, and even death from pedicures; you would think the public would be clamoring for reform. Just the opposite, most consumers completely blow off the risks and have the "it won't happen to me" attitude.

Approximately $6 Billion are spent on spa related nail care every year, making it a huge industry. Unfortunately, along with that pretty pedicure you can take home: hepatitis, cutaneous herpes, warts, HIV, bacterial and fungal infections. These can be deadly, especially in the diabetic or immuno-compromised patient!

A 43-year-old San Jose, California woman's husband remembers the small cut on her toe that led to her death from a skin infection in 2004. A 46-year-old Fort Worth, Texas mother left the pedicure salon with a small abrasion on her heel from a pumice stone in July 2005 and died of staph related illness in Feb 2006. Her family is still embroiled in a wrongful death lawsuit. Texas, California, and Florida have taken a closer look at the cosmetology industry and have put stronger sanitation laws in place, but the consumer needs to be more aware of their risks and simple precautions!

You may never be 100% safe from infection when receiving a pedicure, but there are many simple precautions consumers can take to protect themselves.

  1. What does the salon look like? If it's not clean and shiny like a doctor's office, don't stay! Cleanliness is next to godliness in the nail salon!
  2. Check the photo on the license of the nail technician. Make sure they match.
  3. Ask about sanitation procedures. Instruments should be autoclaved in a steam sterilizer just like surgical instruments. When in doubt, bring your own! There are lots of instrument sets available to purchase and clean yourself.
  4. Is the spa chair pipe-less and cleaned after each pedicure? This is a new chair technology that is available to make you safer. Also, be sure that a plastic cover is placed inside the basin.
  5. Did the nail technician wash their hands after their last pedicure? Hand washing should be standard protocol and prevents spread of almost all pathogens including the common cold.
  6. Is the nail technician wearing gloves? This is the only profession that handles sharp instruments putting the client and the technician at risk that OSHA does not require them to wear gloves. You wouldn't let a dental technician clean your teeth without gloves, would you?
  7. Never let the technician use a sharp blade to trim a callus or cuticle. This puts you more at risk. If your calluses or heel fissures are that thick, please visit your podiatrist prior to the nail salon.

Nail salons are definitely improving their sanitation and trying to make you safer, but you must be a savvy consumer. The risk of infections from pedicures can be virtually eliminated if the operator used autoclaved or disposable instruments, used a pipe-less pedicure spa chair, wore gloves, employees washed their hands, and used proper sterilization techniques. Demand a safe pedicure or you and your family may be sorry!