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Is it safe to get a manicure in pregnancy?

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Updated September 21, 2012

5 Tips for a Safe Manicure in Pregnancy
Getting a Manicure
Photo © George Doyle/Getty Images
There are so many things to think about in pregnancy but the number one question is: Is it safe? This obviously refers to many things in life from food, exercise, sex and even beauty habits including the manicure and pedicure.

Some women have a routine of getting manicures and/or pedicures regularly. Then there are others who only do it occasionally, like for a special event. Getting a manicure or pedicure can be a wonderful stress relieving way to indulge a bit. Many women in the third trimester come for pedicures because they are having trouble clipping their own nails. Whether you’re coming for the primping or the nail trimming, you’ll want to be able to enjoy the time there and not worry.

The short answer is that yes, getting manicures and pedicures are safe in pregnancy. Though there are a few details that may pertain to you, depending on where you go and who does your nails. Not all salons are created equally or maintained equally. So, some things to think about when having nail services include:

  • Ventilation
    The ventilation system that your nail salon uses is important. Because if there are other chemicals being used on other patrons, you may inhale these chemicals without intending to do so. You will want to have fresh air. Things that don’t work include small table fans, air purifiers, and other settings in the ventilation system that merely recycle the air. Open windows, manicure tables with built in ventilation (to the outside) and specific systems to pull the dust and vapors out are best. If you don’t know what your salon uses – ask.

  • Don’t Eat or Drink in Salon
    Eating or drinking while at the salon can be another way to be exposed to chemicals used in the salon, even if they aren’t used in your services.

  • Ask What’s Being Used
    The nail salon workers and/or owner should be able to tell you exactly what chemicals are being used in your services. Various services use different chemicals like acetone, toluene, formaldehyde, etc. You can avoid services that use products that you are leery of and you can also ask to see the mandated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). This will tell you what the risks are for each individual chemical.

  • Get a Chemical Free Manicure
    When in doubt, you can ask that they not use any chemicals. You can even bring your own nail polish and lotion.

  • When are you going?
    This refers both to the time of day and the point in pregnancy. If you are really concerned, you will want to avoid coming in the first trimester, this is when potential exposures would be the riskiest for your baby. As for the time of day, ask if there is a way to come in earlier in the day to avoid lots of customers who may be having other services done.
Remember, that nail salons are inspected by authorities to ensure cleanliness. Each salon will have a slightly different way of doing things, but the equipment should be sterilized between patrons. You may notice that the metal equipment is sealed in a pouch, much like medical equipment. It’s also important to remember that you can’t smell if a salon is clean or if you are inhaling chemicals that may pose a risk.

When trying to calculate risk you have to realize that there are a few ways to calculate the risk of exposure. This includes what chemicals are used, how much of each chemical is used, how often you use them and the ventilation. The biggest risk for nail chemicals would be to nail salon workers who are constantly exposed to the chemicals. If you are pregnant and work in a nail salon, this is vastly different from getting a regular manicure. Warning signs for anyone that they have had an exposure is feeling drunk or dizzy while at the salon, though this is highly unlikely, even if you work in a nail salon.

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