Pedicures: Toe Nail Fungus

Everything You Wanted To Know About Toe Nail Fungus But You Didn’t Know Who To Ask

Receding is when a nail has separated from the nail bed leaving a gap or pocket under the nail. Nail professionals need to carefully evaluate a situation where there is a chance a client may have fungus. Fungus is contagious and it is your responsibility to educate yourself. Salon owner to have a established policy covering servicing questionable customers.

What is Fungus?

Fungus is a fungal growth that effects the toe nails appearance. The most common types of fungus are Tinea rubrum, Tinea mentagrophytes,and Candida albicans. Fungus grows more commonly on toes due to the dark moist environment found inside your shoes. Fungus can be identified by it’s effect it has on the toe nail. The toe nail will often be receding (separating from the nail bed),may be discolored and it can be any shade of green, brown, yellow. And sometime a scaly or blistering effect can be found under the nail, while the nail itself may appear weak dry and even unusually brittle. The fungal infection can also travel to the matrix of the nail as the disease process worsens.

Treating toe nail fungus is very difficult and curing is almost impossible. It is believed that some people are predisposed to fungus. Other health issues can also make a person at greater risk such as psoriasis. Many believe that age also effect the ability to fight the infection, which many pedicurist regularly see in there clients.

Is It Actually Fungus?

A receding toe nail doesn’t always mean a customer has fungus. It can be due to trauma to the nail bed either recently or it can be an old injury. It could be caused by a previous surgery, often to relieve chronic ingrown toe nails. Unrelated health problems and medication can also cause a condition that can look very much like fungus.

It is not your job as a nail tech to tell a customer the she has fungus. It is your job to be able to identify a dangerous situation and protect yourself and customer that could come in contact with the virus on pedicure equipment.

Because fungus can be contagious it is important that you always do a pre pedicure visual check of the feet. Wearing a pair of gloves carefully examine the foot. Remove the polish and examine each nail before you proceed onto the next nail. If you see a nail that is receding and or showing any discoloration you will need to evaluate the severity of the situation and have a plan or salon policy on how to handle the customer.

You may want to ask your client questions so you can better understand the condition.

Here are a couple of examples:

Q: When did you first notice that your nail was separating?

The client could say that she injured it as a child and it hasn’t changed in 35 years. Or she may say this was the first time someone pointed that out and ask you what it could be?

Q: Did you recently stub your toe, or did someone step on it, or did you drop something on you toe?

All of these events could cause the nail to separate and would increase the possibility of not being fungus.

Q: Are you a runner or hiker?

People that run and hike cause trauma to their toes by the constant banging of the toes against their shoes. This trauma can cause the nail to separate and they even loose entire nails.

How to Keep a Client After Telling Her You Can’t Service Her

Making that decision to not service a client because of the possibility they may have fungus is a very delicate situation. If handled wrong you loose a customer and she may tell everyone she knows how you mistreated them. But, if handled correctly you can win them over and gain there trust. A couple of rules to follow when addressing the subject with a customer.

  1. Keep it private. A customer can be terrible embarrassed and uncomfortable so head it off and keep it between you and her.
  2. Don't refuse service. Don’t say we aren’t going to service you because you have fungus. Matter of fact don’t tell her she has fungus. Only tell her a Doctor is the only one that can tell her if she has fungus. And that it might not even be fungus there is a chance that she just injured it.
  3. Explooit your knowledeg. If she says the other salon down the street never said anything about it. You can then say well it’s a good thing I am telling you because it’s very important that the infection is treated so it doesn’t worsen.
  4. Be prfocfessional and courtious. Always end the conversation and throughout the conversation always make it sound like she just needs to wait until after she see’s a Doctor and he gives his ok. Don’t let it sound like it’s the end of her pedicure life. Keep it up beat, and positive.