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A few days before Christmas, I suffered a terrible infection on the fourth toe of my left foot. It started as just a tiny wound, when a hangnail was cut off just a little too enthusiastically. A little bead of blood told me it was an open wound and must be disinfected, but I was in a hurry. It was just a teeny-tiny wound anyway.

Oh, how I regret that decision! By the afternoon of the next day, I couldn’t walk. The pain was excruciating. It went on and on. I was literally trembling from the pain. On the second day, red streaks were radiating from my swollen toe up my foot and snaking up my ankle. I Googled what those red streaks meant and was alarmed when conditions called “cellulitis” and “lymphangitis” came up.

I immediately went to my dermatologist who confirmed I did have a bad bacterial infection, but—good news!—I went to him early so we can arrest the spread of infection. After antibiotics, I was able to walk, the pain subsided, and Christmas was saved.


Disinfect your mani and pedi tools regularly!

My dermatologist told me that these infections are so common because of the popularity of foot spas. The beloved beauty treatment (plus manis and pedis) causes wounds because of nail trimming, cuticle/callouses cutting, and too much scrubbing. Microorganisms in the tubs or the tools the therapist uses then get into the wound.

I asked, “So do you think people should avoid nail spas forever?”

He replied, “I don’t recommend them but because you can’t be stopped, make sure you minimize the risks.”

Here’s how, Bellas:
1. Do not go to a nail spa if you have an open wound in your toes, feet and legs. Not even bug bites or even if your wound has dried to a scab.
2. Do not shave or wax your legs a day before going to a nail spa.
3. Choose a salon that is clean. Ask them how and how often do they clean their foot tub machines, basins, and tools. Ideally, the tubs and tools should be disinfected between each customer for about 10 minutes to really kill germs and bacteria.
4. You can also opt to bring your own tools (nail cutter, etc). Make sure you also disinfect them.
5. Tell your therapist to leave your cuticles and callouses alone, and to not cut your nails too short. This can cause wounds that can get infected.
6. Disinfect your own legs and feet after treatment. Yes, use that alcogel you attached to your bag strap!
7. Watch out for signs of infection. If there’s pain, redness, and swelling anywhere on your feet, see a dermatologist ASAP.

I know I may sound a tad too alarmist but you can’t sacrifice your health for beauty. I almost ruined Christmas for my kids just because of a pedicure. Taken that way, pretty toenails just aren’t worth it!

Frances is a mommy to three little boys but she doesn’t let the busyness of motherhood stop her from trying to look pretty! For more on her stylish adventures as a mom, visit Topaz Mommy or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Featured photo by Lori Fortini courtesy of

Frances Sales

Writer, blogger, and magazine editor for many years, Frances Amper Sales has learned a lot about style and beauty. Yet it was only when she became a wife and mommy (to three cute boys!) that she applied what she knows about skincare, hairstyling and makeup. She realized that she needs to take care of herself now, more than ever! She now shares all that she's learned about mommy care to all you Bellas. Follow her family adventures, too, on Topaz Mommy.

Comments (1)

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  1. Things like this happen to me whenever I get a pedicure. My mother who happens to be a doctor always reminds me to tell the therapist not to cut my nails too short or remove much of my callouses. And if by chance I get wounded, take the safest anti-biotics to stop the infection. Also, don’t soak feet on water if it’s wounded, just rub alcogel to clean. So far, so good.

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