Special Report: Pedicure Perils

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(Olive Branch, MS) Women love the pampering of a pedicure.  "I want to feel good and look good," says Angela Washington, a customer at Caren's Glamour Shoppe. "It's relaxing, they seem to last a lot longer if I go somewhere and get it done," says Katie Fick.

Could you be putting your health at risk, though, when you put the care of your feet in someone else's hands?

"If you walk out with your feet bleeding or your cuticles bleeding, you're really, that's not what you go in there for, says Susan Peterson, a customer at Desoto Foot Care and Pedi-Spa.

It happened to Anna Marie Dixon. "She was scraping my foot at first and then all of a sudden, it just felt like a pain and there was like a little blood running down my foot," says Dixon of a salon she visited.

Cosmetologist Monica Smith of Caren's Glamour Shoppe says such injuries are more common than you think. "I've had clients actually come in limping!"

All from aggressive use of tools like clippers, callous removers and particularly the pedicure blade. It's used to remove layers of dead skin. Some women love it.

"It makes my feet a little bit softer," says Fick.  "I have very rough feet and I want to get all that skin off and it feels good," says Teresa Parham.

While others say, "Using that razor is totally unnecessary," adds Peterson.  It's also illegal in many states. 

WREG On Your Side Investigators checked, and the blade is banned in every bordering state besides Tennessee, Arkansas and Virginia.

Podiatrist Dr. Carla Martin of Desoto Foot Care and Pedi-Spa, says she's treated patients after problem pedicures.  "Thing is, with those you can get down so far that you can't tell the difference between the good skin and the bad skin, and that's when the problem comes in if they go to deep."

That's when you run the risk of infection, but Dr. Martin says the same potential exists from unsterilized tools, foot baths and basins. She recently opened a nail salon that's attached to her practice, mainly marketed to patients.

Dr. Martin says they use hospital grade cleaning solutions and devices. "Everything here is autoclave, which is 100% kills everything."

Smith says they use small, removable tubs.  "We let it sit and sanitize and we can also bring a new tub up and use that one, and we get a chance to swap them out," explains Smith.

It's not high-tech, but customers trust it. "The tools that are used are cleaned in front of me, so I know they've been sanitized," says Washington.

Cleanliness is just one of many things consumers should search for in a salon.   Look for the technician's license and make sure it is current. Also, check out inspection reports.
WREG On Your Side Investigators dug through more than two years worth of salon violations and corresponding inspection reports in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. 

We found scores as low as 25, complaints about improper use of instruments, plus, salons slapped with citations for dirty equipment, unlicensed workers, even having animals in the shop.

Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions. "You're paying your money, you're the client, don't hesitate to ask, don't hesitate to look around and do your own investigation," Smith says.

In addition, don't forget about referrals.  Ask someone who has been to a salon about their experience.  By the way, if you choose to get a pedicure with a razor-like instrument, the blade is supposed to be changed out after each service. 

You can also consider taking your own tools and polish.

We asked officials with the Tennessee State Board of Cosmetology if they have considered banning the blade, a spokesperson responded:

"The process of banning the blade would require the passage of a law...the blade factors into the extreme minority of the complaints processed concerning beauty salons – in part, it seems, because so few customers opt to have them used."

If you have a complaint about an experience at a salon/spa, use the contact information below:


Phone: 800-480-9285

Email: Cosmetology.Board@TN.Gov


Phone: (601) 359-182 

Email: nluckett@msbc.state.ms.us


Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology

P. O. Box 55689

Jackson, Mississippi 39296-5689

Fill out Complaint Form


Email: cosmo@arkansas.gov


Arkansas Dept. of Health

Cosmetology Section

4815 West Markham, Slot #8

Little Rock, Arkansas 72205