Reasons to think twice before your next manicure

Many women (and some men) find themselves on a regular schedule for visiting the nail salon; every 2-4 weeks for a manicure/pedicure with a color change to fit the new desired style or celebrate an event. But did you know that these pampering activities can actually do some harm to your hands and feet? Here are a few things to watch out for before you decide to make your next nail appointment.


Infections are the most common concern when it comes to injuries and illnesses at the nail salon. These can occur a few different ways:

  • Occasionally, your nail tech may cut your cuticle or extra skin too close, causing a break in your skin and your hand to bleed. This can easily lead to an infection on its own, but the risk becomes greater as the appointment continues if the wound is not properly treated. However, the use of chemicals and materials for acrylics, polish, glue, lotions and other items later in the appointment can also lead to infection as they have time to seep into your cuts.
  • Cleanliness (or really, lack thereof) can also lead to infections. If previously used nail filers, pumice stones, cuticle nippers and other tools are not properly cleaned or discarded between uses, bacteria can spread from previous clients to you. Footbaths during a pedicure are also the source of bacterial and fungal infections when they are disinfected regularly. 
  • Additionally, your nail technician could be the cause of your illness. Though likely unintentional, your tech could pass along some unwanted germs to you if they are not taking the proper precautions. This could be something as simple as poor hand hygiene leading to the spread of a cold or flu, to spreading a contagious rash or warts from by wearing gloves. Unfortunately, both the client AND the nail technician are at risk of hand infections in these cases. If YOU are the client with an infection, wart or other contact contagious condition, you run the risk of spreading it to not only the nail tech, but their next client as well.


To clarify, going to the nail salon is probably not giving you skin cancer. While UV light can lead to skin cancer with repeated use, there is not enough evidence at this time to suggest that you will obtain skin cancer from drying your nails under a UV light alone, unless you are using it on a daily basis over a long period of time. However there is something you may want to look out for before visiting the nail salon.

A black, vertical line across your nail could be a sign of Acral Lentiginous Melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Though this cancer is fairly rare, it also tends to be extremely aggressive. These streaks can appear under the nails of your fingers or toes. Sometimes, little black lines or a pattern of lines come and go from your nail. These instances normally occur after nail trauma, a nail break or another event, such as a difficulty removal of shellac one month. For these black lines, there is likely no health concern. However, if the streak suddenly appears, does not go away/grow out and/or if the darkness begins to widen and extend to the cuticle skin, it’s time to consult a doctor.

So, what does this have to do with the nail salon? The important thing to know here is if you see a line that is concerning like as described, do NOT cover it up! Going to the nail salon to have your unsightly nail painted will only do more harm than good. Instead consult a doctor, shellac free, to have your nail assessed. If you’re in the clear then by all means, continue with your manicure routine!


You probably still want to go to your monthly nail appointment, no problem! Here are just a few things to look for next time you go:

  • Ask your nail technician not to clip your cuticles. Instead, just have them pushed back prior to your manicure.
  • If you don’t notice foot baths being cleaned between clients, skip the pedicure!
  • Make sure you nail tech is using new instruments when you arrive, or, that the instruments are cleaned between clients with either a heat-sanitizing machine, or chemical solution. Tools such as pumice stones and buffers cannot be cleaned so be sure new materials are being used on you.
  • If YOU have a hand/finger infection, virus or some other hand issue, avoid the nail salon until your hand is fully healed.
  • Always make sure your tech washes their hands before beginning your manicure or pedicure.  Consider asking your technician if they would mind putting on medical gloves before starring, especially if they appear to have wounds or sores on their hands.

As always, if you feel you may have a hand infection, have concerns about your finger nail’s appearance or are experiencing any other nail, finger or hand issue, contact any of our offices and schedule a visit with a hand specialist!


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