Can I get a salon pedicure if I have diabetes?

You have to take care of your feet when you have diabetes. Poor foot care, infections, and slow-healing ulcers can lead to amputation of a foot or leg.

For diabetics, pedicures completed in a safe, sanitary environment can be helpful for continued maintenance between healthcare visits with your doctor.  However, you should be careful to pick a salon that properly sanitizes their instruments. Salons that do not properly sanitize tools can spread foot fungus or infections that can be devastating to patients with diabetes.

Check a few things with the manager before you go, make sure the salon you choose is clean and that the staff routinely sterilizes the instruments and foot tubs. Do they allow you to bring your own personal tools? Speak up about your medical condition and the type of pedicure you desire. Make sure to tell them if you have nerve damage in your feet from diabetes. Suggest a water temperature for your foot bath that will ensure your feet don’t burn. Your cuticles should not be cut, either, since this could invite infection. Ask them to gently push them up with a wooden stick instead. Otherwise you might end up with a skin or nail infection. 

Some salons use cheese grater-like tools or metal files to remove dead, dry skin and calluses. It’s best to avoid using rough instruments and metal files because they can tear your skin. Ask the nail tech to use tools that are more like sandpaper or soft brushes on your skin.

Pedicure tools MUST BE STERILIZED properly or you can get skin and nail infections, which may show up immediately or later — even months later. If after receiving a salon pedicure you notice any of the following, contact your doctor immediately:

  • Bacterial infections. If your toenail or area around the nail appears red, hot or swollen a few days after your pedicure, you may have a bacterial skin or nail infection. Treatment can include antibiotics and possibly an incision to drain the area.
  • Fungal infections. Your nail turning yellow and beginning to lift off is a sign of a nail fungus. Fungal infections may not appear for months. Oral and topical treatment can resolve these infections.
  • Viral infections. These come in the form of plantar warts, the most common viral infection of the foot, and these too may not show up for months after a pedicure. Dark spots and a callus-like covering are common with plantar warts. Various treatments are available.

Dr. Victoria L. Melhuish, DPM, will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have about your foot and ankle health. Just set up an appointment online or call Sierra Foot & Ankle in Carson City or Gardnerville, NV for an appointment (775) 783-8037.