Toenail fungus is an infection of the nail bed and toenail. It often looks like a yellow or white spot, and causes the nails to thicken, discolor and crumble. While not dangerous to most people, toenail fungus is unsightly. It’s also quite contagious. Nail fungus can live in any moist, warm environment and may be spread by nail technicians at salons.
Toenail fungus may be spread any time the nail is exposed to the fungus. Improperly sterilized pedicure tools provide a haven for the fungus, and the abrasion that occurs during a pedicure introduces them. Salons may also accidentally spread the fungus by failing to clean foot baths or bowls in spa chairs. Once the fungus finds a crack or crevice in the nail, it can spread quickly.
Before choosing a salon for a pedicure, customers should take the time to check out hygiene. The salon should be clean, with no sharing of equipment between manicurists. If a tool falls to the floor, it needs to be immediately disinfected. Clean instruments need to be stored only with other clean instruments. If anything seems suspicious, the salon may not be worth the risk.
Nail polish encourages toenail fungus to grow. Most nail polish forms an impermeable barrier, preventing air from getting to the nail plate. Healthy nails are exposed to the air periodically, and kept dry. Nail polish also contains harsh chemicals which can damage the structure of the nail, making it easier for the fungus to invade. Choosing a pedicure without polish can reduce the chances of nail fungus.
One way to enjoy a pedicure and still prevent the danger of contamination is to bring a dedicated set of pedicare tools. This reduces the chance of being exposed to micro-organisms from another person’s nails. If a salon is unwilling to use a customer’s own tools, it’s probably not the best place to get a pedicure.
Toenail fungus is a cosmetic problem in most people, but it can become more serious. The fungal infection may become painful, and it can do permanent damage to the nail. People with weakened immune systems from AIDS, leukemia or similar diseases, people who have had organ transplants and those with diabetes are at a higher risk. Nail fungus contracted from a pedicure could result in a serious, even life-threatening infection.
References and ResourcesUniversity of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics: Manicures or Pedicures May Lead to a Nail Fungus
Medical News Today: Nail Fungus and Nail Salons, Even Celebrities Aren't Immune
Mayo Clinic: Nail fungus
Our Health Network: Nail Fungus
Beautytech: Keeping on your toes