First, the easiest way to avoid infection, which I tell all my patients, is to beat the probability of being exposed to bacteria or fungus in the first place. Try and make your appointment as early in the day as possible. This will increase your chances of having instruments used on you which were likely sterilized overnight with no one having used the same tools before you.
Secondly, while it may feel nice to close your eyes and relax, please wait until after they put the cuticle nippers away! Our bodies created cuticles in order to prevent bacteria from traveling into the deeper layers of our skin. Cuticles are a barrier for bacteria and fungus and should not be trimmed or pushed back.
Thirdly, always make sure that you do not have any cuts in the skin or that you have not pulled any skin from around the nail. The skin is the best barrier we have for infection, and once compromised, many microorganisms can enter into the body.
Fungus can easily be spread. All of the above tips can help including bringing your own tools and nail polish. I bring my own nail polish that is less toxic and prevents excess drying of the nail. I like that it has antifungal elements and healthy nutrients, because a damaged nail is more susceptible to fungal infection. Plus it’s great to be able to do touch ups at home with the same color.
My last tip for having a relaxing and infection free pedicure is to skip the callus trim. The pumice stones, which are porous and often left with moisture in them, are a perfect breeding ground for fungus which can easily be transferred onto your skin.
I am an avid believer of self care, but I would love for us to all do it safely. If you notice any redness, pain or swelling around the nail, changes in the nail color, nail thickness or changes in your skin whether after a pedicure or not, it is best to seek a medical opinion. If you are experiencing what you think is an ingrown nail with pain, redness, swelling or drainage, it's best to seek out a podiatrist before going to the nail salon.