Warning: What You Don’t Know About Your Nail Salon

It’s that time of year again.

The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer. Almost time to pull out the many fabulous-looking sandals that have been waiting to make their yearly debut.

You take an off day to do your spring cleaning and exchange your winter clothes for the summer. Next stop, the nail salon for that much-needed pedicure.

But before you do that, I think there is a little known fact about the neighborhood nail salon you should know before you go and get that “walk-in” service.

Now…we all know that there is a direct danger of contracting a nail fungus from tools that have not been properly sanitized, and most of us are very aware of making sure our manicurist uses clean files, clippers, and other tools.

But most people are not aware of the problems that comes along with soaking your feet in that fabulous jet tub along with the relaxing massage chair.

When I have spoken to people about this widely unknown problem most will say, “Oh my nail salon is very clean, they spray and sanitize the tub before every service,” or “My nail salon uses a plastic lining in the foot tub that is changed with every service.” You can’t get cleaner than that, right?

Not quite. You see, all that spraying, wiping, and changing plastic lining is only surface sanitation and actually has very little to do with the spread of bacteria that causes fungus, and other problems.

The Foot Tub Really Isn’t The Problem

I know this first hand because some years ago I contracted a nail fungus that I have been battling for years because I didn’t want to take oral meds that required me to have my liver and kidneys checked every three months for a year.

(That’s a whole notha story, but a brown toenail was not worth risking the health of my liver and kidneys.)

Anyway, back to what I was saying…

I loved going to get a pedicure and always enjoyed looking down at my feet and seeing how pretty they looked in my sandals.

So when I got the nail fungus I was baffled. How did this happen? I am a trained cosmetologist…heck, I’m a trained cosmetology instructor. I’m not only qualified to test hairstylist but manicurist and estheticians as well. I know all the sanitation protocol.

When I went back to the nail salon and showed my manicurist the fungus on my toenail, she had enough nerve to tell me that my nail had turned that color because my iron was low.

That really pissed me off. I got so mad that I pulled out my credentials and made the owner produce every manicurist’s license along with pictures, which she could not do. I was ready to write her up and have her fined. (Something I’ve never done before.)

So I gave her a warning and told her I wanted to see all licenses properly displayed when I returned, which I never did.

Still, I wanted to find out how I got this fungus? I watch the manicurist like a hawk making sure everything is done by the book. I would never allow someone to give me a manicure or pedicure that does not follow proper procedure.

So I dusted off my cosmetology student and instructor books and poured through the infection control chapters. I studied bacteria and searched the internet about fungus.

As I refreshed my self on the characteristics of bacteria and how they do their thing, it hit me. The tub and tools are not the problems, IT’S THE TUBES AND JETS!

Ok…let me explain. Let’s go over the steps when we get a pedicure.

When you first enter the nail salon and ask for a pedicure, they take you over to a waiting massage chair with a foot tub attached. The manicurist quickly sprays and wipes the tub or puts down a fresh new plastic lining.

Next, she turns on the water and sprinkles some crystals into the tub that turns a darker color, (mostly blue) and the water starts to produce bubbles. She immediately turns on the jets and directs you to put your feet in it and relax for a while.

Now…I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this before, but if you own a jacuzzi bathtub you know how hard it is to clean which is why most people rarely turn on the jets. Once you put bubble bath in your jacuzzi tub and turn on the jets when you drain it the water goes out and dirt and bacteria get trapped in the jet opening and tubes.

When you clean the tub, you can only clean the surface, so that’s what you do. Then you go to use it again, fill the tub and turn on the jets, all this crap comes flying out into the water and you realize that the jets and tubes still have dirt in it…so you take a shower. 

The same thing happens at the nail salon with the “jacuzzi” foot tubs. Only you can’t see the crap coming out from the dirty tubes and jets because she has put a pretty indigo blue substance in it that doesn’t allow you to see the particles flying out.

And these particles carry that little fungus character you see on the commercial that gets under your toenail and makes a home, furniture and all.

Even if the massage chair/foot tub apparatus has one tube to bring the water in and another tube to drain the water out, the jets are still a problem. Getting a pedicure in today’s nail salon is like playing Russian roulette.  The best course of action is to not play the game.

So What’s The Answer?

How can you avoid the nail fungus danger and still get pampered with a relaxing pedicure?

Ask the manicurist to soak your feet in an old fashioned basin. She can still make the water warm and put bubbles in it too. This way you’ll be sure to have a sanitized foot bowl with minimal chance of contamination.

I’ll let you in on a little secret too… Most high-end salons don’t use the pedicure chairs with jet tubs because of that very reason. They take pride in giving the best service possible and passing along fungus and flesh-eating bacteria are not part of the service menu.

You can protect yourself by just asking for a few adjustments and still have your “Pamper Me” day be enjoyable. I hope this info is helpful to you and I wish you a great nail fungus free summer.

4 thoughts on “Warning: What You Don’t Know About Your Nail Salon”

  1. Thank you for great advice!!! I’ve never had a foot fungus but, I know now how to prevent getting one. Hopefully everyone who takes time to read your article will appreciate it and take note!!

  2. Thanks Stephanie,
    Very informative, and somewhat frightening!
    Thanks for your good advice.

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