How do I diplomatically turn away a pedicure customer who has a fungus?

September 01, 2008

How should I handle it when a valued customer comes in for a pedicure but I have to turn her away because she has toenail fungus?


Dear Shari,

How should I handle it when a valued customer comes in for a pedicure but I have to turn her away because she has toenail fungus? Sincerely, Afraid of Offending

Dear Afraid:

This can be an uncomfortable situation. First off, let’s simplify the issue of fungus. The first step to a pedicure is checking both feet for any signs of toenail separation — with or without discoloration. (While we are on the subject, you also need to keep an eye out for signs of plantar warts, athlete’s foot, open sores, and infected ingrown toenails.) While separation can be a sign of toenail fungus, you need to be aware it could also be a sign of an injury. People who run or hike can also experience toenail separation due to the constant pressure of the shoe on the nail.

So you need to be diplomatic when questioning your customer. I always use the line, “Oh Mary, you must have injured your toe.” If she says yes and explains the injury, you can proceed with the pedicure. But if she hesitates and says “Gosh, I really don’t know what is causing that,” you need to address the issue and explain why she won’t be getting a pedicure in your salon today. Take the time to quietly explain to the customer that fungus could be spread to other customers so it is salon policy never to service customers with possible fungus until they get a doctor’s OK. Always act as if you’re doing your client a favor. Approach it as if you’re lucky to catch it early. If you do it right, she will leave thanking you.


What’s the cause of the pinkish-red oval area on the pad of my client’s toes?

I have a client who has a recurring problem with her fourth toes during the winter months. Both of her “ring finger” toes develop a pinkish-red oval area on the pad. Then a month later, when I see her again, the skin has become dry and hard like a callus, with the layers of skin peeling away to reveal a deeper, dark epicenter.  It’s extremely painful for her and, needless to say, we do not touch it. But it clears up in the summer when she’s wearing open-toed sandals, so I suspect it has to be due to the boots she wears in the winter. Plus she never puts lotion on her feet or uses a foot file in between visits. What do you think causes this?

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What are the big white spots on my natural-nail client’s nails?

I have a client who has been with me for about two years. She used to wear acrylic nails but has been a natural nail client for eight months or so. She has these white spots on her nails — big spots that are dry, but not flaky, right in the middle of the nail. I did try to buff them lightly but they do not come off or grow off. I had a new client come in last week who had the same on her toenails. She said it started after she had a pedicure done at another salon. Can you help?

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