Pedicure infections are surprisingly very easy to pick up, if proper disinfection guidelines are not followed. Usually occurring in salons and spas that cater to numerous individuals, pedicure infections have been known to get as serious as amputations and even death. The major problem lies in not so much the cleanliness of the utensils as many would assume, although this can lead to serious infection as well, but in the cleanliness of the vessels used to soak the feet.
Water is known to encourage some types of harmful bacterial and fungal growth. Whether it’s in your pool, Jacuzzi or foot spa, water can become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria if not properly disinfected. The problem with moving water is that bacteria is then flushed to the inner tubing or piping and also to the filters that have been put in place to catch debris. Once bacteria gets caught in the filters and inner workings, it sits there, thrives and multiplies amongst the organic debris and reenters the water stream with every circulation cycle. Imagine using the same water over and over to soak your feet! That’s exactly what you’re doing if the foot soak vessel is not properly cleaned.
The problem with filters is that they are intended to catch and hold debris and certain sizes of matter in order to keep them out of the water flow. So the filters keep dirt trapped within them and let water pass through. Once bacteria enters the equation, as you can being to guess, the bacteria is carried to the filters where it sits amongst the other dirt and grime. Some of the debris caught in the filters may be organic, thus helping the bacteria to thrive and multiply rapidly.
As water passes through the filters it comes into contact with the bacteria and thus the bacteria is transmitted to the flow of water. Thus, even though the larger particles have not become dislodged, the microscopic bacteria have still infected the water supply and can easily pass through the filters with the water. The problem is compounded by the fact that bacteria doesn’t have to only develop at the filters. So a quick fix of only cleaning the filters is not adequate. Bacteria can build up at any point along its journey, via moving water, through the inner workings of a foot spa increasing the risk of pedicure infections.
All it takes is one trace of bacteria left to thrive to cause an outbreak. Usually bacteria enters the situation from the (natural and processed) water supply where it is normally found, so religious cleaning of feet before the usage of foot spas will not totally eliminate bacteria from the environment and chances of getting a pedicure infection.
The bacteria will also need another circumstance to aid in their infection – broken skin. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through any kind of broken skin. This includes insect bites, scrapes and bruises.
This is why it is so very important to avoid public spas or salons for 24 hours after you’ve shaved your legs, used a hair removal cream or waxed your legs as you may have small openings on your skin. It is of the utmost importance, that if your skin is broken in any way that you stay away from pedicure foot spas that you are not sure have been thoroughly disinfected. In some cases however, where the level of bacteria was so high, people who reportedly did not shave right before using foot spas or claimed not to have broken skin still contracted pedicure infections! This could also be the result of a small scrape or cut going undetected though.