Taking a trip to the nail salon for a much-deserved manicure and pedicure is a great luxury in life, so to think that any part of this self pampering could actually be harmful to you just doesn’t seem fair. The reality is that if your salon of choice doesn’t take care to thoroughly cleanse their utensils, you could be the victim of a fungal infection. Gross, right? The truth of the matter is that dirty utensils paired with aggressive use (i.e., cutting cuticles too closely) can lead to major issues.
The good news, however, is that not everyone who’s had an infected instrument break their skin is subject to infection. The average healthy nail-salon go-er will most likely walk out of the salon fungus-free, however, if your immune system isn’t up to par, a future fungus may be the reality. Nail fungus and infection can really hurt, and definitely doesn’t look too pretty either. Some common symptoms of a nail fungus include: scaling under the nail; a white, flaky nail surface; white or yellow streaking on the nail; yellow spots on the bottom of the nail; or total loss of the nail. We said it wasn’t pretty!
The fact of the matter is, you need to speak up when you take a trip to the salon. Don’t be afraid to ask your nail technician how they sterilize their instruments or if your foot bath was cleaned prior to your appointment. Foot baths are a total breeding ground for bacteria, so you’ll need to find a salon that does a thorough clean-down of their baths between each client. Also, check to see that your nail salon has an autoclave (those toaster oven-looking machines) to help destroy bacteria. Soaking instruments in an alcohol solution kills most germs if the tools sit in the solution for longer than 10 minutes, but this isn’t always 100% effective. Not to mention, nail salons are usually so busy that the nail technicians don’t even have 10 minutes to soak their tools.
To avoid getting a nail fungus in the future, try bringing your own tools to the nail salon. The nail technician may scoff, but at least you won’t be coming in contact with someone else’s germs. Another good precautionary measure is to use anti-fungal sprays and powders prior to and after going to the nail salon. Also, nail fungus happens more often in toenails because fungus thrives in warm, moist places (such as your shoes and socks), so wear socks that minimize moisture when possible.
If you’re already suffering from a nail fungus, it’s important to go see a doctor. Over-the-counter topical solutions aren’t always effective, so a prescribed oral anti-fungal medication may be needed. The nail can only be cured until a new, healthy nail grows back, however, sometimes the fungus can return and spread to other places in the body. Make sure to schedule frequent check-ups with your physician to keep a close eye on it and so that you can (hopefully) bid the fungus farewell for good!