As the temperature outside warms up, you may be feeling the pressure to make your feet look their best in sandals or other open-toe shoes. A pedicure is an option. But if you have type 2 diabetes, getting a pedicure is a choice you have to be careful about because of the risks involved.
One is the risk of infection. Infection can raise your blood sugar levels, interfere with proper healing and put you at risk of more serious complications like ulcers and even amputation.
So before scheduling a visit to the nail salon, check with your physician to make sure it’s okay to have one. Check also how nail salons are being allowed to operate in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be prepared to follow safety guidelines, such as wearing a mask and physical distancing.
Once you have the green light to proceed, sticking to a few basic precautions can significantly reduce infection risks and lead to a safer, more pleasant experience.
“People with poorly-controlled diabetes can develop foot problems, such as decreased circulation or nerve damage, which can lead to serious complications,” says Athena Philis-Tsimikas, MD, a clinical endocrinologist and vice president of Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute.
“Poor circulation can make your feet less able to fight infection. Nerve damage can cause loss of feeling, so if you injure your foot you may not know it,” says Dr. Tsimikas said. “This makes cuts and nicks in the nail salon something you really want to avoid if you have diabetes.”
If you have diabetes, proper foot care is a must. Follow these tips if you are considering getting a pedicure.
If you currently have any infections, cuts, or open sores on your legs, feet, or toenails, avoid the salon and the many risks. This also includes neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage that can occur with diabetes.
Contact your physician for a referral to a podiatrist or other specialist who is medically trained to care for your feet.
Shaving can leave tiny nicks in your skin and increase the risk of infection. If you have neuropathy, it can lead to a loss of sensation to the affected areas. Without the ability to feel pain, people with diabetic neuropathy can allow small cuts or blisters on their feet to fester into larger sores or ulcers which can become infected.
Tell the manager you have diabetes and inquire about their sterilization procedures. Reputable salons will work with you and show you how they operate. Foot baths should be cleaned and disinfected between customers. Clippers and other tools should be washed and sanitized in a disinfecting solution or a surgical autoclave, which uses pressurized steam to sterilize instruments.
Play it safe and bring your own if possible.
Ask the technician to avoid doing anything that can scratch or injure the skin. Speak up if you don’t like what the technician is doing.
Ask the technician not to cut your nails too short, as this can encourage ingrown toenails and lead to infection. Make sure toenail edges are not sharp; they should be rounded off with a file.
Never allow the technician to cut your cuticles or use any sharp instruments on your skin or under your toenails. Instead, after your feet have been soaking for a few minutes and the skin around your toes is soft, cuticles can be gently pushed back with an orange stick, which is the thin stick, typically made of orange wood that is used for manicuring.
After your pedicure is finished, keep an eye on your feet and legs for any signs of redness or infection. If you notice anything unusual, call your doctor right away.