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A Pedicure Gone Wrong!

Caroline, a 42 year old lady suffering from diabetes, came to my office in tears last June. On enquiring what her problem was, she narrated the following unfortunate story:

5 weeks prior to my seeing her, Caroline had attended a pedicure at her local beauty salon. She remembers the beautician digging and cutting her cuticles to a point where it was slightly painful. After having her toenails painted, she went home happy with what she thought was a pedicure well done.

The following morning she woke up with the one of her toes swollen, red and painful. She took some painkillers hoping that the problem would resolve. Two days later, the problem had spread to the adjacent 2 toes and pus was now present. Her blood sugar was also high.

Her doctor told her that she had most likely contracted an infection on the toes from an aggressive pedicure with unsterilized tools. Despite aggressive treatment in 3 different hospitals, four of her toes could not be saved and had to be amputated.

This is not the first time I had treated a patient who had developed complications following a pedicure session. Caroline is lucky because she only lost her toes, I know of at least another three who have ended up losing their legs and two who lost their lives.

Is it okay to go for a pedicure? This is what I get asked many times. To answer this question, the following factors need to be taken into consideration:

  • Underlying medical conditions
  • Qualifications of the person doing the pedicure
  • Sterility of the instruments

It is a good idea to inform your pedicurist if you are suffering from certain chronic conditions e.g diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, variscose veins, etc. In Caroline’s case, her diabetic status made her body more sensitive to an over Рzealous pedicure. Incorrect handling of cuticles may open up a portal for bacterial entry thus leading to infection. This may happen to anybody who suffers from any condition that reduces blood flow to the feet. A pedicurist should also avoid aggressive scrubbing of the feet with metal files as this may injure the underlying tissues leading to skin breakage.

If your pedicurist has had adequate training, informing him or her of your underlying medical conditions will allow them to make a decision on whether they should go ahead with the pedicure. If not, they will refer you to a podiatrist, who is medically trained to handle these cases.

Sterility of the implements is also very crucial. If the pedicurist accidentally causes injury and the instruments are not sterile, one can pick up a nasty infection.

In conclusion, is pedicure forbidden? Make an informed decision by taking the above factors into consideration.

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