Q&A

What precautions should be taken by a diabetic nail tech?

Q.

I am a cosmetologist and would like to start doing nails, but I have also been diagnosed as a diabetic and must do finger sticks daily. Should I be concerned about infections? I see a lot of info on the diabetic client, but not the diabetic nail tech. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

A.

You bring up a very important question. Any openings in the skin make you potentially more susceptible to infection. This holds true for you, a nail technician who may create an opening in the finger from a finger stick, but is also true for clients who for example should not shave their legs prior to soaking in a pedicure spa because they may have some microscopic nicks or openings in their skin. Infections can be acquired just about anywhere (from touching a doorknob, shaking a client’s hand, etc.). Additionally, diabetics are more prone to infections in general and therefore it is important that you are especially cautious. After each finger stick it would be a good idea to wash your hands with an antibacterial soap and then to apply a topical antibiotic ointment (bacitracin is over the counter). You might want to cover the area with a small spot bandaid or even consider wearing a latex glove, especially if your hands are going to be immersed in water. It is always a good idea to wash your hands before and after each client. You might also look into a different glucose monitor that can prick the arm rather than the finger. 

— Dana Stern, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in nails. She works in private practice in New York City.

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