Are Pedicures Safe If You Have Diabetes?

Pedicures may seem like a modern indulgence, but they actually date back more than 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. The word pedicure comes from the Latin “pes” for foot and “cura” for care. Originally practiced to prevent foot problems, today, more popular than ever, pedicures combine nail and skin care with a relaxing and self-pampering experience enjoyed not only by women but more and more by men, also.  

Are these types of services a good idea for everyone? Specifically, are pedicures safe if you have diabetes? In the past, diabetics were cautioned against pedicures by their endocrinologists and podiatrists. 

The risk of picking up an infection at the nail salon is more of a major concern, however, for those with diabetes, because any cut or abrasion is an open invitation to infection, which causes blood sugar levels to increase. Once this happens, the elevated blood sugar interferes with the bodies healing process and can lead to ulceration and, in the worst case scenarios, amputation. Infection potential is never something that diabetics can afford to take lightly.

On the flip side, it is also just as important for diabetics to practice good foot and nail care as it is for anyone else. Maybe more so. Pedicures can be very instrumental in this. The current thinking is that, in general, pedicures are fine for those with their diabetes under control and who has consulted with and received the blessing of their doctors. That said, there are some precautions that need to be kept in mind.

Pedicure Safety Precautions for Those with Diabetes

Common sense dictates that there will be some salons that are better choices than others. This applies to everyone, but especially to diabetics. Find one that you are comfortable with and be proactive in making sure only the highest cleanliness and safety procedures are used. Some things to look for in a salon include:

  • Schedule your appointment early in the day
  • no compromise on impeccable cleanliness and sanitation procedures
  • foot baths must be cleaned and disinfected between customers
  • clippers and other tools should be washed and sanitized in a disinfecting solution or surgical autoclave – even better, invest in your own nail kit and bring it with you
  • soaking water should not too hot, between 90-95 F - ask the technician to test it before you put your feet in
  • tell your nail technician to never cut into the corners of your toenails as this can lead to an ingrown toenail and an infection
  • skip any services that can injure the skin
  • do not hesitate to speak up about concerns

Make sure that the salon knows that you are diabetic and postpone your visit anytime you have infections, cuts, or open sores on your legs or feet. Learning what to look for, as well as what to avoid, can significantly reduce your risk of infection and lead to a much safer and more enjoyable experience.