Perfectly polished and protected: pedicure tips

(ARA) – Pastel pink, pretty pink or hot pink? Some pedicure decisions change with the season, but others, including the tools and methods used to perform a pedicure should remain constant. A safely performed pedicure, either at home or in the salon, is essential for feet that look and feel great.

The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) offers several pedicure pointers that will keep your feet, and your pink, polished toenails healthy this summer.

Do-it-yourself pedicures:

* Use a pumice stone, foot file or exfoliating scrub to remove dry, rough skin. This tends to build up on the heels, balls and sides of the feet. Soak your feet in warm water for at least five minutes before gently smoothing away unwanted skin.

* Use toenail clippers with a straight edge to cut nails straight across. Other cutting tools, such as manicure scissors, can increase the risk of ingrown nails, particularly if using them to cut out the edges of nails. Smooth and round nail edges using an emery board.

* Clean under nails gently with a wooden or rubber manicure stick. Never use metal or sharp objects to clean beneath nails.

* Use a rubber cuticle pusher or liquid remover to gently push back cuticles, but don’t overdo it. Cuticles serve as a protective barrier against bacteria, so don’t cut them.

*Do not leave nail polish on for extended periods of time, as this may encourage the growth of fungus. Leave polish off for a day or two between pedicures, to allow air to get to the nail surface.

* Keep feet soft and moisture in balance by applying an emollient-enriched moisturizer.

* Dry feet completely. Moisture left between the toes can promote the development of fungal infections.

* Look for foot-friendly products that have been given the APMA’s Seal of Acceptance or Approval. These have been evaluated by podiatrists and found to be beneficial to foot health.

Salon pedicures:

* Be safe and bring your own pedicure tools. Shared pedicure instruments can spread bacteria and fungus if they have not been properly cleaned.

* Forgo shaving your legs right before your pedicure. Freshly shaved legs may have small cuts that can allow bacteria to enter your skin. Shave a couple of days prior to your pedicure and don’t sweat the stubble – your pedicurist has probably seen it all.

* Don’t allow technicians to remove dead skin with a foot razor – it can result in permanent damage if used incorrectly and can easily cause infection if the technician removes too much skin.

*Avoid leaving the salon in the flimsy slip-ons. They don’t provide adequate support or protection once you’ve exited the salon.

*Monitor any nicks or abrasions that you may have received. Pain lasting longer than several days or any signs of infection should be seen and treated immediately by a podiatrist – the foot and ankle expert.

Keep these podiatrist-approved pedicure safety tips in mind and you’ll step out in style and good health this summer. As for deciding which shade of pink polish to apply … you’re on your own.