The price you pay for beautiful feet should not cost you your health.  Getting a routine pedicure does not sound like a negative life changing event.  But, under certain circumstances, a person can increase their risk for limb threatening infections and cancer.


Salon goers love that gel nail polishes last longer without chipping.  But, this type of nail treatment requires nails to dry under ultraviolet (UV) light which is the same harmful light rays emitted by the sun and tanning beds. A recent article by MD Anderson Cancer Center shares research findings on the link between gel manicures and skin cancer.  There are 2 types of UV light: UV-A and UV-B.  It is found that nail dryers emit UV-A radiation at lower amounts than tanning beds.  The risk of skin cancer from an occasional manicure/pedicure appears low.  But, for someone who visits a salon regularly for this nail treatment, it is worth taking necessary precautions.

Foot Safety Tips

  • Bring sunscreen and have your manicurist/pedicurist apply it to your hands/feet as part of the lotion-and-massage part of your treatment.
  • Wear fingerless gloves or cut-off socks to cover as much of your skin while under the UV light nail dryer.
  • Alert your doctor of any mole or lesion that seem to be getting bigger, have irregular borders, unequal coloration, and have an unequal shape.


A soothing foot soak can pose a hidden risk if the salon does not practice necessary sanitary procedures.  An alarming 20/20 Investigation revealed the majority of salons they visited had insanitary practices with foot baths containing harmful bacteria.  The plumbing components of the pedicure foot bath equipment can collect bacteria if not properly cleaned between each individual soaking treatment.  A break in the skin or nail can allow harmful bacteria and fungus to enter the body and start an infection.

Foot Safety Tips

  • Schedule your pedicure early in the morning when foot baths are typically at their cleanest.
  • Don’t shave 24 hours before your pedicure to allow small cuts on the feet and legs to heal.
  • Bring your own pedicure utensils to eliminate sharing.


A healthy foot has the ability to heal from minor cuts and infections.  A high risk foot may be slow to heal a wound due to poor circulation.  Nerve damage causing loss of feeling in the feet (known as neuropathy) can slow or prevent a person’s ability to detect a problem.  Neuropathy can be seen in people with diabetes, alcohol abuse, chemotherapy side effect, and a number of other disorders.  Foot infections in high risk feet can lead to hospitalization and loss of limb.

Foot Safety Tips

  • Diabetics with neuropathy or poor circulation must have their nails and calluses cared for by a podiatrist.
  • High risk feet should avoid regular foot soaks which can lead to infection between the toes.
  • Sharp cutting instruments should not be used to smooth or remove corns and calluses.  A file or pumice stone is safer and should be used in a one direction motion vs. a back-and-forth sawing motion (which can tear skin).
Ingrown big toenail with a fungal infection caused by a bad pedicure.

Ingrown big toenail with a fungal nail infection caused by a bad pedicure.

Taking proper precautions before visiting a nail salon can spare your feet from dangerous consequences. A fungal toenail infection is one of the most difficult infections to cure.  If a toenail becomes too thick or ingrown, excessive pressure to the underlying tissue can lead to a wound that can get infected.  A foot evaluation by a podiatrist can reveal a person’s risk level for foot complications.  In high risk individuals with diabetes and poor circulation, regular appointments can be made for foot care.

It is okay to have a pedicure, as long as it is a safe pedicure.

If you need a foot doctor in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area, Dr. Rosemarie Caillier has the experience to evaluate your feet for pedicure risks and complications. As a podiatrist, she can develop a treatment plan for fungal toenails, surgically remove ingrown toenails to prevent regrowth, prescribe solutions for corns and calluses, and manage high risk feet.  Dr. Caillier understands the desire to have pretty feet and will be happy to help you stay healthy in the beauty process.