Pedicures 101

Pedicure Health and Safety Issues

When going to a salon for a pedicure it's important to go through this mental checklist before sitting back and putting the health of your feet in the hands of someone else:

  • Is the salon licensed?
  • Do the nail technicians/pedicurists have their licenses displayed?
  • Does the footbath/whirlpool area appear clean and sanitary?
  • Is the water emptied after each use?
  • Is the footbath disinfected after each use?
  • Are the instruments used for the pedicure cleaned and disinfected?
  • Are disposable items thrown out after each use?
  • Did the pedicurist properly ask you about the health of your feet before beginning?
  • Does the salon have sufficient ventilation?
  • Were you given your own foot towel?

Skin infections, usually caused by microorganisms that survive and breed in the warm water of the footbath can occur. You can tell if you've developed an infection if small wounds, that at first look like insect bites, break out on your feet and legs. Open cuts, abrasions and sores on the feet make it more likely for an infection to occur if there are any little bugs lurking in the water. This is why it is very important to not go for a pedicure with any kind of wound on your foot. If you're not certain about whether you should go for a pedicure, ask a trusted pedicurist.

Care of your cuticles, also known as the eponychium -- the living layer of skin cells that lay on your nail bed -- is mainly an aesthetic issue and the matter of personal preference. Some prefer to keep their cuticles trimmed very low. Others think that cutting into the cuticle is dangerous because of the risk of cutting too deep and causing an infection. Some states have passed laws making it illegal for salons to cut the eponychium. Pesty overgrown cuticles can instead be manicured by pushing them back with an orange stick after a good foot soaking.

We've now gone over the ins and outs of pedicures, but there's still lots more information out there. Click on through for links to some great Web resources.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Adkins, Jen. "FAQ: Pedicures for People with Ticklish Feet." May 1, 2008. (Accessed 10/8/09)
  • American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. "Practice Good Foot Hygiene and Toenail Care." January 2008. (Accessed 10/7/09)
  • Barakat, Matthew. "Fish pedicures: Carp rid human feet of scaly skin." Associated Press. July 21, 2008. (Accessed 10/8/09)
  • Buchanan, Kadence. "Pretty Feet for Women." October 3, 2009. (Accessed 10/9/09)
  • "How much do manicures and pedicures cost?" October 2007. (Accessed 10/9/09)
  • Crowley, Tim. "The Big Dip." Nails Magazine. October 2009. (Accessed 10/7/09)
  • The Good Spa Guide. "Pedicures" (Accessed 10/8/09)
  • International Pedicure Association. "Pedicure Safety Awareness for the Consumer." (Accessed 10/9/09)
  • Lajourdie Anna. "Could it be Gel Toes?" Nails Magazine. December 23, 2008. (Accessed 10/9/09)
  • Nails Magazine. "10 Nail Myths to Stop Believing." (Accessed 10/9/09)
  • Peters, Vicki. "Tip of the Week #18 Cuticle Care." (Accessed 10/9/09)
  • Pratt, Michelle. "What Is Onychorrhexis?" Nails Magazine. October 2009. (Accessed 10/7/09)
  • Sibal, Anna Lynn C. "How to give yourself a French manicure." (Accessed 10/9/09)
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Preventing Pedicure Foot Spa Infections." March 13, 2008. (Accessed 10/9/09)