You'll never get a pedicure again after seeing a picture of this woman's foot

One Indiana woman's story of a pedicure gone wrong is enough to keep us out of the salon for years to come. 

According to Cosmopolitan, Jennifer White visited a local salon in her town of Noblesville for a "standard pedicure" with some friends. But what she ended up getting put her in the hospital for a handful of days.

In the now-viral Facebook post, White explains that while the salon was "new and absolutely gorgeous," the tools used by the manicurist where not sanitized. 

"Well the pumice stones and the scrapers (which are prohibited in all nail salons but they use them anyway) are not sanitized....AT ALL. Therefore someone else’s germs are always on them. When they use the pumice stones or scrapers it causes tiny breaks in the skin where infection can set in. Also the bowls your feet soak in must be properly sanitized if covers are not used," she wrote.

RELATED: Manicurist secrets 

12 Things Your Nail Salon Doesn't Want You to Know
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12 Things Your Nail Salon Doesn't Want You to Know


Podiatrist Dr. Robert Spalding, author of "Death by Pedicure," states that "at this time, an estimated one million unsuspecting clients walk out of their chosen salon with infections -- bacterial, viral and fungal." And no matter which salon you go to, there is always a risk of infection. He claims that in his research "75 percent of salons in the United States are not following their own state protocols for disinfections," which includes not mixing their disinfectant solutions properly on a daily basis, not soaking their instruments appropriately, and using counterfeit products to reduce costs (for example Windex substituted for Barbicide), says the doctor. And the problem is that there is no way to really "verify an instrument has been properly soaked and sterilized," without watching the process.

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Like most businesses, most nail salons won't turn away paying costumers. Which means that people who are sick, have nail infections or foot fungus are being worked on next to you instead of being referred to an appropriate medical professional.

Dr. Spalding says that the greatest danger of the nail salon is "The transmission of infection from one client to another." And with "millions of people whose immune systems are compromised by diabetes, HIV, cancer, hepatitis and other infective organisms" booking services offered in nail salons, many are dangerously susceptible to infection, warns the doctor.


In her long history as a nail technician, celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi, owner of Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spas in New York City, says she has heard of many salons filling expensive lotion bottles with a cheap generic lotion. That way the salons can charge you more for the manicure by claiming to use prestige products, but in reality are just deceiving you.

Similarly, she says that some salons will dilute nail polish bottles that have become clumpy from old age or from too much air exposure with nail polish remover. This action compromises the quality of the polish, which will make the formula chip easier once on your nails. To ensure the life of your color and to protect any possible germ spreading, tote your own bottles.

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"Breaks in the skin can be microscopic or highly visible," says Dr. Spalding. They can either come in with the client via "cuts, scratches, hangnails, bitten nails, insect bites, paper cuts, split cuticles -- or be created in the salon," he says. "Nail techs using callus-cutting tools and nail nippers, files, cuticle pushers, and electric burrs and drills, can and do scratch and nick skin," sometimes drawing blood and sometimes not. But just because no blood is visible, doesn't mean these "portals of entry" aren't susceptible to infective organisms, the doctor advises.

If you've ever had your nails filed and it momentarily feels "too hot in the corner for even a second," then you've had the surface layer of your skin broken -- leaving it open for infection.

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Some salons will try to keep certain added costs a secret, says Choi. They try and up charge you for "nail strengtheners or base coats" and won't tell you until it's time to check out, she says. A quality nail salon will include all costs in the advertised price of the service, says Choi. So make sure to ask if all costs are included before soaking your hands or feet.

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Some narcissists or paranoid customers might think that nail technicians are talking about them when they speak to each other in other languages across the room, but they aren't. Apparently they don't care to share with each other how lovely your nail beds are or how gross your big toe is. "In general, they mostly gossip about their family and friends and the shows they watched last night," says Choi.


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"Some infective microorganisms are easy to kill [and] some are not," says the doctor. And unfortunately, he has seen "industry-wide confusion about the definition of the term 'sterilize.'"

He says many nail techs think their instruments are sterilized, when, in fact, they "have no clue," because not all disinfectant solutions are powerful enough to kill all viruses. Therefore, when nail techs aren't informed of costumers' pre-existing medical conditions, they don't know how to properly disinfect for particular viruses. "These are medical situations," says the doctor, which manicure and pedicure-licensed technicians aren't trained for -- it's not in their job description and isn't their fault as they are "neither schooled nor licensed to work in the presence of blood or to maintain a surgically sterile environment," says the doctor.


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Many salons use Barbicide, UV light "sterilizer" boxes, or other chemical solutions to disinfect their tools, which is legal and standard, but not totally effective at killing all bacteria and infection. The only solution that works completely is an autoclave, a machine used to sterilize equipment and supplies using high pressure and steam, "which kills 100 percent of all infective organisms," says Dr. Spalding. But currently, only two states (Texas and Iowa) require autoclaves in nail salons by law, which means that "less than one percent of salons" use them regularly, he warns.

How can you find out if your salon is using an autoclave so that you're a 100 percent protected? First, ask the salon manager how they disinfect their tools and then look for the "color change pouches that the instruments are prepared in," says the doctor. The color changes on the bag once correct sterilization conditions have been met. This color change indicates that the object inside the package has been processed. Autoclave pouches are therefore sealed and should be opened in front of you.


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You shouldn't shave before getting a pedicure, says Choi, as pedicurists do not care if you have hair on your legs. Also, shaving your legs makes you more prone to infection as newly shaved legs have open pores (and often tiny nicks you can't see) that are susceptible to infectious diseases. So don't be wary of showing off some stubble at the salon, she says.


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Many salons will try and talk you into callous removal, as it is usually an additional service and charge. But Skyy Hadley, celebrity manicurist and owner of the As "U" Wish Nail Spa, says it is not always necessary. "If you're an athlete then you should never remove your calluses as these actually help level your performance. If you are not an athlete, you should have your calluses removed with a deep soak and scrub once they become thick and uncomfortable," she says.

If you do opt for callous removal, always choose scrubbing or a chemical remover. Never allow your nail technician to cut or shave the skin off your feet. "Cutting is cutting," and "not recommended," says Choi. Not to mention, the more you cut, the thicker the calluses will grow back, she advises.


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You can only put metal tools in the autoclave, says Choi. And as we stated before, only an autoclave kills a 100 percent of all bacteria and viruses. Nail salon tools like pumice stones, emery boards, nail buffers and foam toe separators need to be swapped out after each use to prevent the spread of bacteria. That's why you're best off bringing your own -- just in case the salon doesn't follow this practice. If you see any white residue on a nail file, it means it's been used on someone else.


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"Whirlpool footbaths," though seemingly safe, are filled with city water, which may or may not be free of microbes, says the doctor and are typically difficult to clean. Even though most nail salons disinfect their tubs, researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention typically find bacteria that could cause boils and rashes in most according to the "New York Times." And it's extremely hard to bust these salons with having microbe growth, as many times salons aren't linked to the infections because boils can take as long as four months after a pedicure to develop.


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After leaving the salon, White's foot started swelling up. "I have never in my life experienced such pain in my life," she said about the incident, which required her to receive the "strongest antibiotics available given by IV."

Photos of her foot were shared on Facebook, with many promising to exercise caution next time they visit any nail salon. And while many nail technicians were "appalled" to read the story, some offered tips on the best ways for customers to protect themselves. 

Looking out for the salon's health code, reading reviews and observing how the technicians clean pedicure bowls and other tools will give customers an idea on how clean the salon actually is.

But even with sanitized tools, the threat of infection still remains. According to RTV6, the manager of the salon explained  that they "bleach the pedicure tubs after each use, but have ordered plastic liners for each tub because of this experience."

The best bet for salon patrons? Maybe bringing your own tools. 

RELATED: What your nails tell you about your health: 

7 Things Your Nails Tell You
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7 Things Your Nails Tell You
1. Pale Nails

The problem isn’t so black and white when it comes to white nails. If your fingernail beds are looking a little ghostly, you may have anemia, a blood disorder characterized by a low red blood cell count. “Anemia resulting from low levels of iron can lead to inadequate oxygen in the blood, which causes the skin and tissues to become pale, particularly the tissues under the nails,” says Shilpi Agarwal, M.D., a board-certified family medicine and integrative and holistic medicine physician in Los Angeles. Be sure you’re consuming good sources of iron, including green leafy vegetables, beans, and red meat, to boost your levels.

More seriously, pale nails could also be a sign of early diabetes or liver disease, both of which can lead to impaired blood flow. “When diagnosed early, diabetes can often be controlled with dietary changes,” Dr. Agarwal says. Avoid processed foods with refined sugars and carbs, and eat more fiber, vegetables, and whole grains. “These will help stabilize blood sugar levels and limit circulatory damage caused by uncontrolled sugar levels,” she says. For liver disease, a trip to the doc for testing is a must-do for accurate diagnosis.

2. Yellowing or Thickening

Yellow nails certainly don’t look pretty, and what causes the hue is even grosser: “Thickened nails, with or without a yellow-ish tone, are characteristic of fungal infections that generally traverse the entire nail bed,” Dr. Agarwal says. She adds that topical medication is often no help since the infection is in the nail bed and underlying nail plate. Your doctor can prescribe an oral med, which will reach the entire breadth of the infected nail.

Are you making these diet mistakes that cause brittle nails? 

3. Dark Lines

Even if you diligently check your skin for questionable moles monthly, you likely overlook your nails, a place where dangerous melanoma often goes unnoticed. “Dark brown or black vertical lines on the nail bed should never be ignored,” Dr. Agarwal warns. “These can be a hallmark sign of melanoma, which requires early detection and treatment.”

Leave your nails bare periodically so you can examine them, then go get a mani. “Sunlight is unable to penetrate through polish, so any shade other than a clear coat will provide an adequate barrier from the sun,” Dr. Agarwal says. Smart idea since your nails’ smooth surface makes it hard for sunscreen to be absorbed into the nail.

4. Pitting and Grooving
Depressions and small cracks in your nails are known as “pitting” of the nail bed and are often associated with psoriasis, an inflammatory disease that leads to scaly or red patches all over the body. “Individuals who suffer from psoriasis develop clusters of cells along the nail bed that accumulate and disrupt the linear, smooth growth of a normal nail,” Dr. Agarwal explains. “As these cells are sloughed off, grooves or depressed areas are left behind on the surface.” A physical exam is often all you need for a diagnosis, after which your doctor may recommend topical, oral, or injected medications or light therapy.
5. Brittle, Thin or Lifted Nails

Breaking a nail can be a bummer, but if your tips seem to crack at the slightest touch, it could mean your thyroid is amiss. This gland in your neck regulates metabolism, energy, and growth, and too little thyroid hormone often leads to hair loss, brittle and thin nails, and nails that grow slowly, Dr. Agarwal says.

Thyroid disorder also manifests itself by causing your nail plate to separate from the nail bed in a noticeable way. “Lifted nails are thought to occur because the increase in thyroid hormone can accelerate cell turnover and separate the nail from its natural linear growth pattern,” Dr. Agarwal explains.

Brittle, thin, slow-growing, or lifted, see your physician ASAP for a simple blood test that can check for thyroid disorder, which can be treated with medications.

6 Things Your Pee Is Trying to Tell You

6. White Lines

Stripes on your nails are only a good thing if they are painted on. Horizontal white lines that span the entire nail, are paired, and appear on more than one nail are called Muehrcke’s lines. These could be an indication of kidney disease, liver abnormalities, or a lack of protein and other nutrients, Dr. Agarwal says. “They are thought to be caused by a disruption in blood supply to the nail bed because of underlying disease,” she explains.

Shorter horizontal white marks or streaks, however, are likely just the result of trauma to the base of your nail. These may last from weeks to months and usually will disappear on their own.

7. Blue Nails
A blue face is a clear indication that someone’s lacking airflow, and blue nails mean the same thing—you’re not getting enough oxygen to your fingertips. This could be caused by respiratory disease or a vascular problem called Raynaud’s Disease, which is a rare disorder of the blood vessels, according to Dr. Agarwal. Some people just have slower blood circulation, especially when exposed to cold temperatures, she says, but have a physician check your blood and oxygenation levels if your nails are persistently blue.

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