Ask Chia Doc: Pedicures, MRSA, and Five Things You Need to Know Stay Safe

I hope you had a nice week!  It’s been a busy last several days for me getting back to work after a really invigorating weekend in North Carolina at the Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon.  We’ll talk more about some of the great efforts being done on the reservation there next week.

A patient contacted me a few days ago with this question:

“The nail tech cut my foot during a pedicure.  Should I be concerned about infections, like MRSA?”

She also sent me a picture of the toe in question, but I will spare you from having to see that.

For this topic, I’m bringing in my friend, infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anibal Maldonado.  Dr. Maldonado is board certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases.  Here’s what he has to say:

Injuries during pedicures are very common, unfortunately.  Keep a close eye on the cut, and watch for a bump, or any areas that might be red, swollen,  painful or warm to the touch.  These are big red flags and could signal infection.  Experiencing fever and chills?  Time to call your doctor right away.

It’s very important to ask the employees at your nail salon what type of autoclave (sterilization machine) they use.  If they don’t know what that means, go elsewhere.


To the right is a picture of Dr.  Lewis’s autoclave.

Dr. Lewis’s patient specifically asked about MRSA.  MRSA has gotten a lot of attention lately, after news of the Tampa Bay Bucs dealing with the infection among three of their players.  Earlier this week, crews in hazmat suits cleaned the Bucs locker room and  training facilities in preparation for a home game today.

But remember, this is not the first time an NFL team has encountered such issues.  MRSA is actually fairly common in group sports.  In 2003, eight players from the St. Louis Rams developed skin infections with MRSA.  All of these were at turf abrasion sites.  Any activity that involves crowding (like contact sports or even daycare students!), skin-to-skin contact and equipment sharing can increase risk of MRSA transmission and infection.

But remember, not every patient who is exposed will develop an infection.  In fact, some research suggests 2 in 10 people carry MRSA.  There is still not a clear understanding why some patients get sick and others do not.

The good news is that most of these infections are easily treated with oral antibiotics and patients recover without any future complications. Invasive illnesses, like pneumonia and bloodstream infections are pretty rare.

What can you do to avoid MRSA?

     1. Never share personal items, like towels and razors.

     2.  Wash your hands frequently!  Also make sure to clean properly after exercise.

     3. Cover cuts, scrapes and wounds until healed.  Direct contact with an open wound spreads infection more quickly.

     4. Seek prompt medical assistance if there are any signs of infection

     5.  Don’t be shy, ask your personal care providers about cleaning and sterilization processes!  Your health depends on it!

Chia Doc