November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Everyone loves a little manicure and especially a pedicure once in a while. But if you are a diabetic there are some key factors you should consider before dipping your toes into any pedicure basin. Nail salons can be a relaxing and enjoyable place, but if a salon does not have high sanitation and disinfecting standards—don’t patronize that business.  

     It can sometimes be hard to judge if a location has cleanliness as a priority, if they do not explicitly show or tell you it does. But keen observation, i.e., a little sleuthing, and asking questions can take the mystery out of knowing how a business operates.

Now, of course what you’ve read so far, really goes for everyone. However, diabetics are especially fragile. Because the disease affects their nervous and circulatory system, it takes much longer for them to heal from cuts, scrapes or any breaks within the skin. That is why it is so important to make sure you are dealing with a licensed professional who does not rush your services along. Moving too quickly can lead to an accidental nick or cut of the skin. Just in case you’re surmising that suffering a mere cut might not be that entirely bad, perhaps so— if you don’t mind cuts and bruises. But should you suffer a cut to your skin, if the professional is not using sanitized and disinfected implements (metal tools); the basin in which your feet are soaking has not been thoroughly sanitized and disinfected; and the products being used for your skin’s pampering are not safe for specifically you, a diabetic; then health complications can surely arise. It is the totality of things that can transform a luxurious, relaxing self-care ritual into a scary, dangerous nightmare. In extreme cases an infected cut could become an ulcer that doesn’t heal. And if left untreated, it can welcome gangrene or even worse—the amputation of a limb.


Here are five things to ask yourself when getting a pedicure:

1.    Is the salon space clean, free of excessive dust, odor, and nail clippings on the table, floor and open areas?

2.    Did the beauty professional wash his or her hands or sanitize them before touching you? (Even wearing gloves is a nice touch. Unless the professional is touching everything with the same pair of gloves that land on you.)

3.    Did the beauty professional conduct a consultation to talk to you about any health challenges that may interfere with services or make the best recommendations for you based on what you have revealed?

4.    Do they use fresh and properly disinfected implements after each client or reuse tools/implements as well as using the same disposable items on several clients?

5.    Do they use products that are safe for diabetics, and do they even know what that is?


Here are five things diabetics should never put on their skin/body:

1.    Paraffin Wax because paraffin (which is petroleum) has to maintain a temperature above a body’s temperature to remain fluid/liquid, so it could be too hot—leading to possibly burning the client.

2.    Do not let anyone other than a doctor or qualified medical professional cut living tissue on the feet/body.

3.    Do not use petroleum jelly. The ever-popular brand, Vaseline, is synonymous with hydration for many people, but it is not a hydrating agent. Petroleum jelly is very non-occlusive, meaning it stifles or suffocates the skin, which doesn’t allow the skin to breath. Use foot creams/products made for diabetics.

4.    Do not use harsh sugar or salt-based scrubs. They can create small fissures (cuts) in the skin when trying to exfoliate dead skin. Use a product that:

A. States it is explicitly safe for diabetics


            B. Is made of another material like beveled pumice, so it cannot cut the skin.

5.    Never use a credo blade on the skin. They are illegal in some states like Maryland and cutting the skin at the wrong angle can cause massive damage, trauma and could lead to cutting large holes in the foot.  

When you have particular health challenges, you need to understand that going with the bargain and/or best priced services, may not be the best option for you. Sometimes to ensure a higher standard of care, you need to do some research or book a consultation to speak with a professional or ask for referrals from someone you trust to ascertain all the important points mentioned above.

Personally, sometimes I like to indulge and relax at a high-end hotel spa because its standards are nationally pronounced and high. But sometimes, I enjoy patronizing a small or independently-owned nail spa because I know its professional pride and customer care have earned a positive reputation with its clientele. Either way, I’ve done my homework.

Whatever your pampering preference, take the few extra steps to do your due diligence by doing research and/or engaging in a fact-sleuthing consultation before committing to a pedicure reservation. 


Stay Beautiful, Stay You,

Joy A Johnson, Contributor


@Joy.A.Johnson ß Have a nail question? Send it here.