Perfect Your Pedicure

Tips for having pretty feet all year long.

Joy Pape By Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN

"Can a person who has diabetes get a pedicure?" So many people want to know. Some take for granted that they can; some think they shouldn't.

Susan's friend wants to give her a birthday gift. I get a call, "I'd like to give Susan a pedicure for her birthday. Can you refer me to a good spa?" I wish I could answer yes, but in all honesty, I haven't visited one, nor do I know of one I would recommend for someone who has diabetes. I, and many other health professionals, don't recommend pedicures for people who have diabetes. The good news is there are ways for you to have a pretty pedicure this summer and all year long.

Why many health professionals don't recommend pedicures for people who have diabetes.

1. The tub. The first part of a pedicure is to soak your feet in a tub of water. People with diabetes are taught not to soak their feet. Soaking your feet can cause your feet to get drier. If the water is too cold or too hot, it can affect your circulation. Also, how do you know if the tub you are soaking in is clean? You really don't. Even if they tell you it is, is it medically disinfected?

2. The clip. People with diabetes are taught to clip their nails straight across and file the edges. Your pedicurist may do that, but what if your pedicurist clips your skin and causes you to have an open wound?

3. The snip. When it comes to your cuticles, your pedicurist may snip away your cuticle. This too can cause you to bleed, which is an open wound prone to infection.

4. The tools The tools are shared. Even though they are soaking in a cleanser of some kind, do you know if they are truly disinfected? People have developed infections after having pedicures. The spa you visit may tell you that you can keep your own supplies there, but they would have to be kept in a plastic bag. If the bag and supplies are not totally disinfected and dry, microbes can grow in the bag.

What can one do to have that pretty pedicure look?

1. Wash and dry your feet. Make sure you get in between your toes to both wash and dry them. But do not add lotion between your toes as this creates a warm, damp environment in which bacteria can fester.

2. Clip your own toenails or have them clipped by your healthcare team. Clip them straight across, but not too short, and file the edges. Medicare and most insurance plans do pay for a podiatrist to clip your nails.

3. Push your cuticle back. Do not cut or clip your cuticles. Push them back with an orange stick. Cuticle oil moistens them so they don't look dry.

4. Use a pumice stone (not the metal cheese grater kind) to gently buff, not rub, your heels and hard dry areas daily. If you have hard areas (calluses), see a podiatrist.

5. Use a moisturizer on your feet daily or more often. Do not use it between your toes. Best to do this after you clean and dry them, when they are moist, not wet, and it is dry between your toes. If your feet are extra dry, lather up with lotion or cream and put on socks that fit before you go to bed. This will keep your feet looking good.

6. Pick a color. Pick out a color you love. Paint your toenails. If you would like, you may have a pedicurist apply the polish.

So there you go. A perfect pedicure for you.


Read Joy's bio here.

Read more of Joy Pape's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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