Pedicures and Diabetes

Communicating with your customer and having a full understanding of the issues that customer’s face that have been diagnosed with diabetes is extremely important. Diabetes is a disease that affects many areas of the pedicure service, and a mistake made by a pedicurist could result in an infection and even an amputation.

What is Diabetes?

A diabetic has a decrease production of insulin which is produced by the pancreas, or they have developed a resistance to their own insulin. Insulin is a natural substance found in all of us, and is essential to allow sugars (glucose) found in the blood stream to be absorbed properly. It is estimated that over 11 million people in the United State have been diagnosed with Diabetes which averages out to be 1 in 20 that are effected with this disease. Experts caution that these static’s are a under estimate because many people have not been formulary diagnosed.

Diagnosed diabetics are divided into 2 categories:

Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes

Even though Type 1 is often called Juvenile Diabetes, approximately 30% of the public is diagnosed after the age of 30. And the symptoms come on quickly, sometimes as fast as a couple of days.

Symptoms Include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme thirst
  • Hunger
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Without being given insulin by mouth or injection this condition is life threatening.

Type 2

Type 2 is generally diagnosed later in life and the person can have the disease for years before the symptoms make it obvious that there is a problem. Type 2 is differs from Type 1 in that insulin is produced but not absorbed properly. Often Type 2 can be controlled by exercise and diet. Type 2 can turn into Type 1 as the disease progresses which then results in taking insulin either by mouth or injection.

Diabetes can also occur during pregnancy, and some medications can cause a reduction in insulin production.

Now that you understand what Diabetes is it even more important that you completely understand how this disease effects the body and why it is so important to the nail technician.

Loss of Feeling in Legs and Feet

The disease effects the circulation and nerve ending resulting in what is known as neuropathy. It can cause pain or a loss of feeling. When a person loses feeling or a loss of sensation they can’t tell if something is hot, sharp or if your about to cut them with the toe nail clipper. Where a normal person would be able to feel early enough to pull away before an injury could occur.

Clients with Neuropathy also may come in with infected injuries such as ingrown toe nails or even ulcers or sores on their feet. Infections are very dangerous to a person with Diabetes and need to be treated by a physician.

Take great care in checking the temperature of foot and paraffin baths. Always be aware that the client may not be able to feeling everything. This also includes when they get up and try to get down from the pedicure chair with lotion on their feet. Always help a client up and down from the pedicure chair to reduce the possibility of slipping.

Every customer should check prior to be put in the foot bath. If an infection is found they need to see a physician (see infection for more info)

Infection, Ulcers, Sores & Blisters

Any type of sore is a serious condition to a person with Diabetes. For example; a 38 year-old man walks through the house in the dark to let the dog out like he has done a hundred times before, he trips over his young son's toy fire engine and cuts his toe. The cut is small, and to you and me it would be dismissed after hoping around the room and making a note to that from now on all toys need to be picked up at bed time. But the 38 year-old man with Type 1 diabetes this resulted in an infection and within a couple of months a amputation of his toe. The same thing can happen if you nick a customer with a cuticle nipper.

When checking the feet be sure to look for blisters, infected ingrown toe nails, cuts, and dry heels with cracks that either are infected or could become infected.

As a salon owner or nail technician it is important that everyone servicing diabetics knows the complications that are related to this disease. Train your staff and establish salon procedures to guard against any negligence that could occur and possibly become a law suite.