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10 Tips for Healthy Manicures

How to Avoid Nail Infection or Fungus

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Updated June 23, 2004

Millions of women visit manicurists to have their nails professionally manicured every year. Unfortunately, occasionally the result of having manicures is developing nail fungus or bacterial infections which can not only look bad, but may also feel even worse. Although HIV or AIDS can be transmitted through broken skin that occurs during a visit to a nail salon, this is extremely rare. What can you do to lower your risk of developing an infection or fungus, or HIV/AIDS, caused by a manicure? A few simple steps before your next manicure can significantly lower your risk of developing a painful nail infection or fungus, or disease.

  1. Buy your own manicure or pedicure kit and take it with you when you visit your manicurist. Make sure you clean and disinfect your manicure kit after each use, even if you are the only one using your kit.

  2. Bring your own nail polish, base coat, and top coats. Remove your old nail polish at home, or bring nail polish remover with you.

  3. Check out the salon where you have your nails done. Does it look clean and sanitary? Is the trash container properly bagged and covered? Is the floor clean? Are the manicure tables kept neat and tidy? Is there plenty of good light? Look at the disinfectant containers and make sure that they are clear, clean, and free of debris.

  4. If you are not using your own manicure kit: Are all instruments cleaned and disinfected after each use? Does the manicurist use fresh, clean instruments on each client? Does the manicurist remove the clean, disinfected, instruments from the disinfectant in front of you? Make sure all files, buffers, and anything else that touches you is freshly clean before you allow the manicurist to begin.

  5. Make sure the pedicure tub is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each client. The steps where clients typically step with bare feet at spa pedicures should be cleaned and disinfected before each client, as well.

  6. Make sure that the manicurists wash their hands before and after each client, and that clients wash before their nails are done.

  7. Never use a towel that is not fresh and clean.

  8. Make sure that plenty of clean, disinfected, nail brushes are available for each client.

  9. Make sure that a new, unused, emory board is used for each client.

  10. Consider using cuticle softener, rather than cuticle scissors to reduce the risk of broken skin occurring.

If these sanitary precautions are not being taken at your nail salon, don’t be afraid to tell the shop owner what needs to change and what you expect from a manicurist and nail salon. Contact your state cosmetology board if you develop a nail infection, fungus, or other condition as a result of visiting a nail salon, or if you see unsanitary practices.

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