Tinea Pedis, Shoe Bacteria +

One of the things I like about our smaller trade shows, is the ability to take some time to listen and talk with the attendees.

My experience in Portland, Oregon last weekend brought up some topics I haven’t discussed in a while. Topics which are hugely important in our every day life. Not just in our Salons….in our homes as well.

Tinea Pedis (fungus of the skin on our feet) is just one topic which came to the forefront. With this comes the question “are we transferring the bacteria from our feet to our shoes?”

In addition, a topic of great discussion right now is the question of offering soak free pedicures. I have found since Covid, many of our Technicians are either going on the road or pivoting to what they may consider a safer alternative.

To first understand the topic, let’s understand the definition;

Calloused heel

Tinea Pedis;

Tinea pedis is a foot infection due to a dermatophyte fungus. It is the most common dermatophyte infection and is most likely prevalent in hot, tropical, urban environments. However, absolutely no one is safe from never ever having some form of Tinea Pedis in their lifetime.

What is a dermatophyte fungus? If you want to know the technical terms, the top three (3) are;

  • Trichophyton (T.) rubrum
  • T. interdigitale, previously called T. mentagrophytes var. interdigitale
  • Epidermophyton floccosum

Soakless

The definition of the word “soak” means make or allow (something) to become thoroughly wet by immersing it in liquid.

Therefore, common sense tells us, using the word “soakless” means we are not immersing our clients feet in water.

Many people believe using water on our client at all (spray bottle) doesn’t constitute a “dry pedicure”. Maybe it is a bit deceiving so maybe you find another way to describe your pedicure when not using a foot bath to cleanse your clients feet. After all, why do you soak?

  • Cleansing
  • Beginning of the softening process
soakless

There are many forms of tinea pedis. I will put my reputation on the line here by saying there is absolutely no possible way you can avoid bacteria on your feet. If you ever in your lifetime have walked barefoot, even in your own home, you can rest assured bacteria has cross contaminated somehow.

Other risk factors of contracting tinea pedis include:

  • Occlusive footwear (heavy industrial boots)
  • Hyperhidrosis  (Excessive sweating)
  • Immodificiency or diabetes mellitus
  • Immune suppressive medications
  • Poor peripheral circulation or lymphoedema.

Tinea pedis can present in 3 primary ways;

  • Itchy erosions and/or scales between the toes, especially between 4th and 5th digits
  • Scale covering the sole and sides of the feet (hyperkeratotic known as moccasin dryness)
  • Small to medium-sized blisters, usually affecting the inner aspect of the foot. (also known as athlete’s feet)

It can also uncommonly cause oozing and ulceration between the toes as well.

True “diagnosis” can only be determined through  skin scrapings, which are sent for microscopy.

Here we go again;

As licensed Technicians in the cosmetic world, we can NOT diagnose whether a client has tinea pedis or not. We can only present our Professional analyses based on our knowledge. We can determine if a client presents “indicative” of a tinea pedis and recommend at home care products accordingly.

Bottom line;

It is my belief we have to assume everyone we come in contact with in our Pedicure room is indicative of a tinea pedis. Unless they live in a bubble and never take their shoes off, the chances are pretty darn high.

Therefore, it is our professional responsibility to make sure we are;

  1. Practicing safe sanitizing protocols
  2. Recommending at home care products to reduce the transfer of bacteria
  3. Teaching our clients safe practices

To minimize recurrence of tinea pedis and what we should be teaching our clients;

  • Dry feet and toes thoroughly after bathing or showering
  • If wet tinea pedis (classic athletes feet) using a  foot powder once or twice daily is helpful
  • If odor occurs from Tinea Pedis, using a foot spray is recommended
  • Avoid wearing occlusive footwear for long periods
  • Wear white cotton socks is recommended
  • Thoroughly air dry shoes and boots (even if wearing socks)
  • Clean the shower and bathroom floors regularly
  • Treat shoes with an antifungal powder or spray

Treat shoes with an anitfungal spray or powder:

This last recommendation from above is something most people don’t think about often.

Flip flops, sandals, shoes, boots etc…..are all prone to cross contamination.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been informed by clients whom have experienced bad forms of tinea pedis, only to be cleared when they bought new shoes.

This can be costly, so like anything maintenance is the key.

Using a shoe spray with antifungal and/or antibacterial properties will not only save the longevity of your shoes, it will aid in minimizing the transfer of bacteria from one shoe to the next.

Let’s think about this;

Bacteria can multiply every 20 minutes.

We have bacteria on our feet and in our shoe wear. What do you think happens as our shoes rest at night? The bacteria miraculously disappears? NO…it does not. We have to kill it.

Therefore, I have always recommended to purchase a shoe deodorant spray. Spray every pair of shoes in your repertoire (including flip-flops). Then, at the end of the day when you remove your foot wear, spray them prior to putting them away.

Centre For Beauty offers our Footlogix Shoe deodorant spray with tea tree. We also just took on our NEW LCN spray foot powder and it is my understanding a NEW LCN foot spray is coming soon.

The last topic I would like to touch upon is offering soakless pedicures;

As I have shared with everyone who addressed this topic with me in Portland or ever….first and foremost, it is YOUR choice. There is NO specific reason why you should or you shouldn’t. Done properly, a soakless pedicure can be just as effective as a pedicure where we place our clients feet in a foot bowl.

One of the many reasons our Technicians offer a soakless pedicure is if their client is diabetic. Diabetics CAN be soaked. However, it is imperative the water is not too hot AND the soaking time is kept to a minimum. In fact, these two aspects are beneficial for all, not just diabetics.

Let’s look at some pros and cons;

Soaking-pro’s

  • Cleanses
  • Begins the cuticle and callus softening
  • Relaxing and soothing

Soaking-cons

  • Possible infection
  • Possible cross-contamination
  • Time consuming

NON Soaking-pro’s

  • Portable
  • Saves time
  • Can minimize cross contamination

NON Soaking-cons

  • Clients don’t feel as pampered
  • Must use efile and bits for effectiveness

I have been a recipient of both a waterless pedicure and a full soak pedicure. I have to say, I totally enjoy the full soak better.

Not that the dry pedicures I’ve received haven’t been beneficial or good. I personally like the relaxing time, I feel as though my feet are getting cleansed and I’m a bit skittish about having my toenails clipped and filed why dry. I find most Technicians clearly do not understand the proper way to do this.

On the other side, when I have received a dry pedicure, I find the time to be shorter and this is effective when on a time crunch.

And, with both procedures, the most important thing to me is proper cleaning and disinfection. I am always looking at these processes, regardless of where I go and what service is provided.

Everyone will have a different take away from this article. What I want to make clear is don’t let someone else make the decision for you.

As with everything, be informed and educated on what you want to do. If you wish to pivot to dry pedicures…..go get a few. Feel it, experience it, learn from it. The same with a soaking pedicure.

Consider all aspects.

  • What is your ultimate goal
  • Who is your clientele
  • What will YOU enjoy
  • Can you grow from your processes

Whatever your situation may be I’m here if you need me. Visit our website and search our archives for Tinea Pedis and other topics you might find interesting.

And, if attending the Nail Tech Event of the Smokies, Utah Nail Expo or Premiere Orlando….be sure to come by our booth for a demo of the amazing foot care products we carry which, you can use wet…..or dry!

HAPPY PEDICURING

CJ MURRAY, President

CJ Murray
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6 thoughts on “Tinea Pedis, Shoe Bacteria +”

  1. Michele Baker

    This is one of my favorite parts of this post. We need to encourage techs to stay in their lane.

    As licensed Technicians in the cosmetic world, we can NOT diagnose whether a client has tinea pedis or not. We can only present our Professional analyses based on our knowledge. We can determine if a client presents “indicative” of a tinea pedis and recommend at home care products accordingly.

    1. Absolutely spot on. I’m finding more and more the line is being crossed. My fear is our State Boards will eventually catch up and the entire Industry will be affected. Thank you for your support. I appreciate you.

  2. Hi CJ, I feel many nail techs don’t want to read and learn more about pedicures. Many don’t like to do pedicures and those who do, lack a lot of knowledge. I know for sure, I keep learning so much from you and it has helped me stand out from others. For sure, I love soaking feet and I feel it makes my job easier and my clients feel so clean and fresh afterwards. Definitely, I will be making plans to push for retailing foot products.

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