Is It Safe for a Person With Diabetes to Get a Pedicure?

Medically Reviewed on 5/23/2022
Is It Safe for a Person With Diabetes to Get a Pedicure
Learn about the risks of getting a pedicure if you have diabetes, and how you can exercise caution at a nail salon

It is safe to get a pedicure at a nail salon only if your diabetes is well-controlled. You should exercise caution and consult your doctor before going to a spa or nail salon.

If you decide to do a pedicure at home, make sure your blood sugar levels are under control, your setup is hygienic, and you avoid any cuts and nicks.

Why is it dangerous to get pedicure with diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition that is associated with complications of the circulatory, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. Risks of getting a pedicure if you have diabetes include infections, due to the following factors:

  • Poor circulation: People with uncontrolled diabetes have decreased blood flow and poor circulation, meaning they are more prone to infections. If the spa professional exfoliates too roughly or nicks your cuticles, you may develop a wound that will be slow to heal and can become dangerous. 
  • Reduced pain sensation: Since diabetes can also cause nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), people with diabetes may have reduced pain sensations that may make them unaware even if a cut or nick occurs.
  • Ingrown nails: Pedicures can lead to ingrown toenails if the nails are cut too short. For a person whose blood sugar levels are not well-controlled or who has diabetic neuropathy, an ingrown toenail and exposed skin can lead to foot infections.
  • Unsterile environment: An unsterile setup can also cause fungal infections to develop under your nails, which are difficult to treat.

What are the risks of getting a pedicure if you have diabetes?

If you have diabetes, some of the risks of getting a pedicure include the following:

  • Infections
  • Slow wound healing
  • Ulcers
  • Gangrene that may require foot or leg amputation

People with diabetes are more prone to infection, especially if there is a cut or abrasion. Infection can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which disrupt wound healing and can cause ulcers to form. In rare cases, it can lead to gangrene and subsequent amputation.

What precautions should be taken when getting a pedicure with diabetes?

If you do decide to get a pedicure at a salon, make sure the salon has the following:

  • Good reputation
  • Sanitization procedures in place
  • Use of sterilized equipment
  • Experienced technician

Other precautions to take include the following:

  • Skip the salon if necessary. If you have any cuts or open wounds on your feet or legs, skip the pedicure. You should also avoid a pedicure if you have neuropathy, which is nerve damage associated with diabetes. Talk to a podiatrist or other specialist for tips on caring for your feet.
  • Avoid shaving your legs before the pedicure. If you shave the day before your pedicure, there is a high chance you may have small nicks and cuts that can lead to infections. People with diabetic neuropathy may not be able to sense those cuts and are more likely to get infections that can lead to ulcers and sores.
  • Find a reputable salon. Make sure the salon has the following:
    • Sanitization and disinfection procedures in place
    • Use of sterilized equipment
    • Experienced technician
  • Talk to your technician. Let the spa or salon professional know about your diabetes so that the technician takes the proper precautions. As the technician to:
    • Use a pumice stone instead of a metal scraper to gently remove dead skin from your heels. 
    • Gently scrub calluses rather than resorting to cutting them or using a liquid callus remover.
    • Not cut your nails too short because this can encourage ingrown toenails and lead to infection. 
    • Test the water temperature for you, since you may not be able to feel the temperature with your feet.
  • Bring your own tools. Bring your own nail kit or nail care tools for the technician to use on you.


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How to do a pedicure at home

If you are unsure about getting a pedicure at a salon, you can do a pedicure in the comfort and safety of your own home. Tips for doing a pedicure on yourself include the following:

  • Wash and dry your feet 
  • Clip your nails carefully
  • Gently push back the cuticles and avoid cutting them
  • Use a gentle pumice stone to smooth the skin on your heels
  • Apply moisturizer all over your feet but not between the toes, as this can act as a breeding ground for bacteria

When to consult a doctor after a pedicure

If you experience any of the following symptoms days after a pedicure or even beyond that, seek immediate medical treatment:

  • Redness or any signs of infection
  • Tingling or burning in your feet
  • Pain in your legs 
  • Cramping in your buttocks, thighs, or calves during physical exercise
  • Loss of sensation or ability to feel heat or cold
  • Fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot, between your toes
  • Blister, sore, ulcer, infected corn, or ingrown toenail
  • Loss of hair on your toes, feet and lower legs
  • Dry, cracked skin on your feet
  • Change in the color and temperature of your feet
  • Thickened, yellow toenails

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Medically Reviewed on 5/23/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Bernstein S. Spa Safety for People With Diabetes. WebMD.