You close your eyes as the pedicure technician rubs your feet. The warmth from the water sends cues to your entire body to relax, and it obediently follows. The technician cleans off the excess dead skin and grooms your nails, which leaves your foot feeling refreshed.
You are in your happy place.
What could go wrong?
Pedicures have many benefits, but there are also cons associated with this special foot treatment. Let’s dissect the good and the bad of pedicures.
Benefits of a Pedicure
Pedicures have undeniable benefits. Here are six of them:
- Foot circulation. Warm water and massages to your extremities help encourage circulation. They will promote healthy blood flow. Making healthy lifestyle choices is another way to achieve good circulatory health, and pedicures won’t replace that, but they do help.
- Muscle relaxation. If you are on your feet a lot, the massage aspect of a pedicure can hold a lot of appeal. The warm water will also help you relax all the muscles in your feet.
- Exfoliation. Regular removal of built-up dead skin can lower your chances of that skin building up into corns or other problems. Plus, it looks and feels better.
- Spot problems early. Let’s face it: routine checking of your feet might not be something you’re doing. While working on your feet, a pedicurist might alert you to a sore or other problem area that you could then bring to the attention of your podiatrist. You might catch foot issues earlier than usual this way.
- Nail hygiene. Regular toenail maintenance is vital to prevent ingrown nails and infections in the toenails. Bacteria can lurk under toenails, and you must regularly clean it out.
- Mental health. The 30 to 90 minutes of pampering you experience during a pedicure can heal more than your feet. That time can be very cathartic for your mental health. Taking time to do something for yourself can be a luxury during busy seasons of life, but it is important to do things for yourself, too. You can’t help but feel good about life when you feel good about yourself, even if it is just feeling good about your toes.
Cons of a Pedicure
The drawbacks of a pedicure only arise if the salon does not follow proper hygiene practices. With many different feet coming into contact with the same tools, you will want to make sure that someone cleans them before they meet your feet.
Anyone with unmanaged diabetes should also exercise caution when visiting a salon for a pedicure. A foot infection in someone with diabetes can quickly lead to a severe problem. You might come in contact with a new form of bacteria on your bare feet in a place that is notorious for spreading bacteria. The resulting infection could have dire consequences.
Before choosing a salon, observe their cleaning practices. Are they sterilizing tools between uses? Are they reusing water? Are patrons sharing the same foot spas or jets?
You can also ask a local podiatrist’s office for recommendations on hygienic foot salons in the area. They may be well versed in the ones to patronize and the ones to avoid.
Regular pedicures can become an expensive treat for your feet. While they have many benefits, none is worth going into debt.
Alternatives to a Pedicure
If you don’t want to risk getting a pedicure outside of your home or can’t afford one, you can still achieve good foot hygiene. Here are a few ideas to help you reap the benefits of a pedicure without having to go get one.
- Scrub-a-dub. Make sure you take the time to really scrub your feet in the shower or bath. It isn’t enough if you just let the soap run off your body to your toes.
- Trim. Don’t let your toenails turn into claws. Trim them on a routine basis. Remember to cut the toenails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails from forming.
- Inspect. Make an effort to check out your feet occasionally. Finding a sudden change earlier rather than later is usually very helpful.
- Soak. You can soak your feet in the bathtub or a large bowl. Epsom salts can make the experience more soothing and relaxing.
- Exfoliate. Soaking your feet makes them soft and easier to exfoliate if you need to remove some dead skin, too. A pumice stone or other tool can help you exfoliate your own feet.
- Massage. You have three options for a foot massage. You can use your hands to massage your own feet. You can use another object (such as a ball or a frozen water bottle) to help massage your feet. Or you can ask someone else to massage your feet for you. (You might have to return the favor.)
- Polish. If colored nails are your thing, you can get a whole variety of colors for less than the cost of a pedicure.
Whether you go out or stay in for your foot treatments, be sure to regularly maintain, clean, and inspect your feet and toenails.