Pedicures are generally defined as basic foot care or as cosmetic treatments for feet. But in actual fact they do not only have a cosmetic function, and are not modern treatments, as one might suppose. They date back over 4,000 years to the ancient Babylonians, who practised this procedure to pamper feet and toenails (“pamper” being the operative word, since they used solid gold tools!)
The word pedicure comes from the Latin, a combination of the words pes (foot), and cura (care). Far back in history, these treatments were given to prevent disorders and diseases of the nails. Since these ancient times, pedicures have traditionally been used to clip the toenails, prevent infection, and soften the feet by removing dead skin.
These procedures also help the posture, since they smooth and relax the feet, and prevent problems with toenails, e.g. ingrown ones, which can cause pain and limping.
Today, pedicures are becoming a way of life for both men and women. Some doctors recommend their patients have these treatments for their health. However, they can have health risks as well as benefits, which means that it is important to seek the advice of a podiatrist before considering having the procedure.
The American Podiatric Medical Association website gives a helpful and comprehensive list of Dos and Don’ts for your feet before you consider getting a pedicure, whether doing it yourself or visiting a salon.
- Help prevent infection of the toenails
- Prevent ingrown toenails
- Clean the feet of ingrained dirt and bacteria, so preventing foot odour, nail disorders and diseases
- Reduce the risk of toe trauma, through promoting healthy toenails
- Help identify and treat foot problems early on, such as fungal infections, bunions and corns
- Through massage of the foot, help to reduce tension, stress and stiffness
- Through massage of the feet round the ankles, help the circulation all over the body
- Help preserve moisture in the feet, due to the oils and lotions used
- The jets in a whirlpool foot bath can be detrimental to the health, as they contain bacteria and fungi. Whirlpool baths can cause viral infections, athlete’s foot, warts and fungal infections.
- If your skin happens to be cut during the procedure you can possibly catch a bacterial infection if you come into contact with a previous customer who had such an infection, since some salons do not disinfect their medical tools between each customer.
- If the salon is using wooden tools for your procedure, be aware that these tools cannot be sterilised. Therefore, it is important to check that the therapist is using a new wooden tool for your session. Alternatively, take your own tools along to be used for the treatment.
As it can be seen, although there are many health benefits to a pedicure, the procedure does carry some risks. Before having this treatment, you should visit the salon and check that they sterilise their tools – ask to see how they do it. Also, make sure that the salon you choose uses tub liners for their tubs. This also protects you from infections you could catch from a previous client. So go ahead and pamper yourself with this treatment, making sure in advance that you have asked your doctor which salon they would recommend.
For additional information about pedicures, see these links:
Picture courtesy of www.dvaspa.com