Summer's almost here, which means you're probably thinking about ways to get pedicure clients into your salon.
Pedicures are a great source of revenue, to say nothing of the almost decadent pleasure they hold for clients who indulge, but the professional knows this is not a service to be taken lightly. It's important that the pedicurist knows what she's doing — and what her limits are — before she starts tending feet.
According to Rudy Lenzkes Jr., president of Beautiful Feet, beauty schools need to stress safe pedicure procedures a lot more than many of them do now.
"A lot of nail technicians are doing podiatric work," Lenzkes says. "They're treating corns, bunions, and ingrown toenails, which they are not qualified to do.”
This is not a slur on pedicurists; it's a simple fact. A pedicurist’s job is to smooth, soften, polish, and beautify the feet. She has not been trained to treat medical conditions and, yes, corns, bunions, and ingrown toenails are all medical conditions.
KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
You wouldn't refer a client to a hairdresser for brain surgery, would you? Of course not. By the same token, you should not perform foot surgery. Cutting things out of the feet, be they corns or callouses, is surgery, and is not your job, says Lenzkes.
"A lot of technicians are using credo blades, which are illegal in California," Lenzkes added. Credo blades are somewhat similar to razors. A razor blade is used to shave thin layers of callused skin from the foot. Several state cosmetology boards have outlawed their use, so it's a good idea to check with your state board to find out the rules.
“What happens is, a customer comes in and says, "I want the calluses off my feet," explains Lenzkes. “The fastest way to remove a callous is to use a credo blade. But if you shave too much, the client is going to be in pain when he puts his shoe back on. Also, the callous is the foot's natural protection. Sure, you can cut a callous off, but as soon as the client starts walking, it’s going to start growing back. And it’s going to grow back faster and harder than before."
Lenzkes recommends softening, smoothing, and contouring calluses instead of cutting them.
That way, he says, the foot is still protected, but it isn’t rough. This requires routine maintenance — another angle for making pedicures a year-round service!
KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO
There are certain disorders which make performing pedicures inadvisable. Most notable among these are topical infections like athlete’s foot.
“Athlete's foot, eczema, and other topical infections usually have obvious symptoms," says Marc Blatstein, D.P.M., a podiatrist in Holmes, Pennsylvania, “If you handle the feet of a person with an infection like this, you stand a good chance of getting it on your hands."
Dr. Blatstein says you can — and should — refuse to do a pedicure on a client who appears to have a topical infection, and recommend that she see a podiatrist. Of course, you cannot diagnose a disorder — that's the doctor's job. Still, you can say, "You seem to have some sort of rash on your foot. I can’t do a pedicure if you've got a foot disorder. I suggest you see a doctor and come back to me when the problem's cleared up."
Rudy Lenzkes and Blatstein both suggest that you establish a referral relationship with a podiatrist in your area for just such situations. By giving the client a doctor's card, you prove that you are responsible and care about your clients' health and well-being. Also, adds Blatstein, you set the stage for referrals from the podiatrist.
There are other, more serious, disorders that may go undetected. The AIDS epidemic has resulted in a widespread concern over safe practices in many fields. Most experts agree that AIDS can only be transmitted through sexual contact or contact with the blood or semen of an infected individual.
"It’s technically possible if a manicurist had a cut on her hand and cut the foot of a client who had AIDS and got some of the blood from the client s cut into her cut, she could get infected," says Blatstein "The same is true of hepatitis or any communicable disease that is transmitted through the blood." Still, with reasonable care, this can be avoided and is certainly no reason to stop doing pedicures.
To avoid any risk of infection, Lenzkes suggests that technicians do not use metal implements or any cutting tools, except toenail clippers of course, on the feet.
He trains pedicurists to use plastic implements instead, because they are easier to disinfect and not likely to break the skin,
THE CRUELEST CUT
One of the biggest problems with credo blades and other cutting implements used in pedicures, according to Lenzkes, is the possibility of cutting a client. This is never a positive situation, and in some cases it can be extremely dangerous.
“There are two conditions in which you’re going to have problems if you cut the feet," says Blatstein. These two conditions are peripheral vascular disease and diabetes.
"With peripheral vascular disease, such as arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries], often patients are put on blood-thinning drugs," explains Blatstein. "Even people who are taking aspirin every day are going to have thinner blood. If you cut someone with