Diabetes and pedicures: Are they safe?

Do you have questions about diabetes and pedicures? Many people with diabetes have been told that they can’t get pedicures at a nail salon. Is this true? Should you really avoid getting a pedicure? How can you stay safe, and get a pedicure?

Diabetics are at risk of complications

Diabetes and pedicures don’t always go together. Having diabetes means you are at higher risk for a number of problems from getting a pedicure at a salon, says Lee J. Sanders, DPM, a podiatrist, in Diabetes Forecast, a publication of the American Diabetes Association. The Mayo Clinic warns that any injury to your feet can be a major concern if you have diabetes, due to the risk of infection. An infection can raise your blood sugar, which will compromise your ability to heal. Diabetics are at risk of foot ulcers, and even possible amputation. Taking excellent care of your feet is crucial.

How to safely get a pedicure with diabetes

Diabetes and pedicures: yes, you can!

Diabetes Forecast says you can get a pedicure at a nail salon, as long as you don’t have an infection, cut, ulcer or neuropathy — but urges you to use caution and good judgment.

The most important thing, they advise, is to make sure the salon you choose is extremely clean. Check into your technician’s training: Are they licensed? How are the tools cleaned? Is the water in the basin clean? You should ask the salon owners.

Foot baths should be cleaned with hospital-grade disinfectant after each client. Even the pipes that carry the water can introduce bacteria. “Pipeless” pedicure chairs, or an individual bucket or bowl, are better options.

Likewise, ask how the tools they’ll use are cleaned and sanitized. An autoclave (a chamber that uses heat and pressure to sterilize medical instruments) is ideal for sterilizing tools between uses. Another option is to bring your own (very well cleaned) tools from home for the pedicurist to use, according to Diabetic Living.

Another tip: Make sure you tell your pedicurist that you have diabetes. Request that they don’t make the water too hot, and that they don’t clip your cuticles, or file your heels and calluses. They also need to cut your toenails straight across, according to Diabetes Forecast. Don’t shave your legs right before you go, because it can create small nicks that can let bacteria enter. You can shave afterward.

Enjoy a pedicure at home

Another option, if you don’t feel comfortable taking the risk with a salon, is to give yourself a pedicure at home. Joy Pape, RN, writes at dLife about how to treat yourself to as good a pampering as you’d get in a nail salon — but in the comfort and safety of your own home. She recommends simply washing and drying your feet (rather than soaking them), carefully clipping your toenails and pushing cuticles back instead of clipping them. Then you can use a gentle pumice stone to soften your heels. Use moisturizer, but not between your toes — creating a warm, damp environment can encourage bacteria there. Paint your own toenails a pretty color, or go to a pedicurist for just this step.

Whatever route you choose, you can enjoy your pretty, summer-ready feet without risking your health.

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