Having clean, well-kept fingernails is part of a polished appearance. While some of us have learned to recreate a high-quality manicure at home, most prefer going to a professional salon. One of the major reasons is that a manicure is a pampering experience. But don’t get too relaxed. Letting your guard down can let in infections, making a painful hangnail feel like a walk in the park. But how do you choose a place that’ll beautify your nails without the danger of a medical dilemma? Here’s what to consider.
The possibility of infection
Paula Abdul inadvertently became the awareness advocate for nail fungus when she contracted the unwanted malady after getting a manicure. Abdul was one of many women who damaged their nails by going to the wrong nail technician.
“Like other places, a place to get manicures and pedicures is often a public facility and there are lots of people that are getting their nails done and some of those people may have an existing nail infection. If the utensils in the facility are not properly cleaned, they can spread an infection from one person to another,” dermatologist Marta VanBeek, M.D., tells University of Iowa Health Care Today.
Look around before you commit
Before getting your nails done at the salon, peruse the place, asking yourself the following questions:
- Is everything clean and sterilized?
Sneak a peek into the salon’s bathroom — its cleanliness is a good barometer for the rest of the salon, according to the International Pedicure Association (IPA).
Ask the technicians if they use new instruments for each client or re-use sterilized equipment, recommends Dr. VanBeek.
If they sterilize their equipment look for a heat-sterilizer called an autoclave. Simply using rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide won’t kill all germs, Dr. VanBeek adds.
- Do I see a license?
According to the IPA, every state except Connecticut requires that nail technicians are licensed.
The license should be displayed in a prominent spot, so don’t feel uncomfortable asking to see it.
- Do I notice adequate air ventilation and air cleaning equipment?
- It’s important that the nail dust is properly removed from the air and not sucked into your lungs. It won’t affect the health of your nails, but it’s a good way to judge the salon’s commitment to health regulations in general, notes the IPA.
During your manicure
These are additional questions to ask during the manicure:
- Is the technician using new instruments?
- Did the technician wash his or her hands?
- This general health rule of thumb is especially important if you have any minor cuts on your hands, which can make an infection easier to contract.
- Are the linens clean?
- Most people don’t give much thought to the towel beneath their hands during a manicure. But if it doesn’t look clean, ask for a replacement.
- Is the soaking bowl and water clean?
- Not only should the water be changed from client to client, but the bowl should be sanitized as well, recommends the IPA.
- Are the cuticle trimmers coming out?
- Ask your technician to put them away. Nail infections are increased by cuticle removal, warns Dr. VanBeek.
Be your own nail technician
To perform an at-home manicure, remember that the same rules apply as at the salon. And fortunately, as the technician, you know you’re following the rules, and should something go awry, you know who to hold accountable.
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