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Health Benefits of Foot Pedicures

Dr. Donald Pelto

Reviewed by
Dr. Donald Pelto

Getting your nails done is a time-honored way for women—and nowadays also for men—to relax. Getting a pedicure makes you feel pampered and well cared for, and when you’re done, you feel clean and energized.

Most women get their toenails done for cosmetic and therapeutic reasons, but there are also numerous health benefits associated with pedicures.

The practice has been with us for most of recorded human history—the ancient Egyptians were doing pedicures at least 2,400 years ago. Here we will discuss the benefits, risks, and costs of getting a pedicure.

What’s Involved in Getting a Pedicure?

Having a pedicure takes less than an hour in most cases, and that often includes the wait time, depending on how busy the salon is. When it is time for your pedicure to begin, you will be seated in a special chair that has been fitted with a tub of water for your feet.

This water is filtered and salinized or chlorinated like the water in a swimming pool, and it can be aerated like the water in a Jacuzzi.

After your feet have been soaking for a few minutes, a nail specialist will come to take care of you and your feet. First, your toenails will be trimmed straight across (as our site recommends), after which your nails will be filed to a rounder shape.

Some doctors discourage rounded toenails on the grounds that they can more easily become ingrown; if this is a concern for you, ask your podiatrist for advice.

Your specialist may also want to use cuticle pushers; this is another practice that is discouraged by some doctors on the grounds that the cuticles constitute a natural barrier that protects the body from bacteria and other environmental hazards.

In addition to cutting your toenails, your pedicure specialist will rub your feet with a pumice stone in order to remove dead skin and calluses. Most salons will also offer to massage your feet for a few minutes (and sometimes your calves as well), and will finish your pedicure by painting your toenails.

Benefits of a Getting a Pedicure

Of course there is an obvious cosmetic benefit to getting your toenails done—they look clean and pretty—but there are also numerous health benefits. The foot massage that come with most pedicure services helps to stimulate circulation in the feet, which is important for your overall foot health.

The removal of calluses on the feet can prevent the formation of pressure points from uneven weight distribution, and having your nails trimmed by a skilled nail specialist can prevent ingrown toenails.

Regular pedicures are also a good way to prevent blisters, corns, and blackened toenails (one of a number of running-related injuries that can be prevented with conscientious nail care).

How Much Does A Pedicure Cost?

The cost of getting a pedicure can vary greatly, depending on the level of service provided. A simple pedicure usually involves soaking, nail shaping, caring for the cuticles, callus removal, and massage, which can cost around $30, depending on where you live.

A more extravagant pedicure may also include an exfoliating scrub, moisturizing paraffin wax treatment, and moisturizing foot and calf massage.

Home Pedicures – What You Should Know First

If you don’t have the money to get your nails done professionally, or if you don’t have the time to go to a nail salon, you can always give yourself a pedicure at home. A home pedicure is easy:

  1. Blend two tablespoons of baking soda into a basin filled with warm water. If you like, you can throw in a few drops of lavender oil.
  2. After you have soaked your feet for a few minutes, scrub with a mixture of one part water, three parts baking soda, and one part brown sugar.
  3. Trim your nails to whatever length you desire; cut them straight across—do not round them.
  4. After drying your feet, apply moisturizer, and wrap your feet with a warm towel. Sit with your feet in the towel for five to ten minutes.

Pedicure Risks and Precautions

While getting a pedicure every now and then is generally pretty safe and beneficial, there can be risks involved if the salon where you have your feet and toenails done does not observe the laws and regulations governing their operating procedures.

These laws are designed to protect public health, and egregious violations should be reported to the health department.

  • The whirlpool baths in which customers soak their feet must be cleaned and disinfected between uses, and the water must contain some kind of antimicrobial agent.
  • Don’t have your nails painted too often; give them an occasional break. Fungi can grow in the darkness underneath nail polish, and nail polish remover can eat away the enamel on your toenails if it is used too often.
  • Pumice stones and exfoliating scrubs are fine, but avoid foot razors. These devices, which shave skin off the foot, can do serious damage if they are incorrectly used, and they are illegal in some states. Overly aggressive abrasion to remove calluses is likewise unsafe.
  • Don’t shave or wax your legs before getting a pedicure; tiny little cuts—even if they are too small to be seen—can allow bacteria to invade your body.
  • Don’t round the edges of your toenails; this can contribute to an ingrown toenail.
  • Leave your cuticles alone! They protect your body from microbes.
  • If possible, schedule an early morning appointment. The foot baths are cleanest at this time of day.
  • Ask your salon about their disinfectant procedures.
  • Don’t let a pedicurist put your feet in a bowl of dead-skin-eating “doctor fish.” The use of these fish is illegal in many states, and for good reason—they spread disease.
  • For your own protection and for the safety of others, don’t have a pedicure if you have any cuts or wounds on your feet, even a bug bite. Microorganisms are the chief danger found in nail salons, and any opening that can allow them to enter or exit your body should disqualify you from getting your nails done that week.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Pedicures

  • Do you think rounded toenails are a health risk? What is an attractive way for me to have my toenails cut without risking an ingrown toenail?
  • Is having a pedicure done at home less risky?
  • Do you recommend that I not wear nail polish?
  • What is the best way to determine whether a nail salon is hygienic enough to use?

Medical References:

    The EPA http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/pedicure.htm US News http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/06/14/pedicure-or-pedicurse-proceed-with-caution The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/manicures-and-pedicures-look-great-but-you-can-get-infections-or-harm-your-nails/2012/05/04/gIQAYfZA8T_story.html Arm & Hammer http://www.armandhammer.com/solutions/solution-110/Exfoliating-Pedicure.aspx?gclid=CIyKurGVor0CFaVxOgod3WMALg http://www.blissonbroadway.com/ http://www.sallybeauty.com/What-are-the-benefits-of-a-pedicure%3F/FAQ_NAILS_025,default,pg.html http://www.ambianceskincare.com/nails.htm http://thealternativepress.com/articles/the-many-benefits-of-a-pedicure

This page was last updated on October 2nd, 2015



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