Dr. Carolyn Siegal takes care of the well-heeled—literally. She's a podiatrist in Beverly Hills, where she's also launched her own collection of foot care products. After seeing patients who picked up infections from unclean nail salons, she launched the Dr. Carolyn Collection, a line of nail supplies meant to provide a safer pedicure. The smartest product is the savvy nail kit, which contains buffers, a nail clipper, a cuticle pusher, a disposable tub liner and other essential nail implements that you can tote to your nail salon.
Yesterday I spoke with Dr. Siegal about how to keep your feet healthy and safe. She's passionate about her work, and she also knows the value of a good pedicure! Read on for the interview.
What's the sign of healthy feet?
Clean and normal colors—like what you'd see on a baby. There shouldn't be any yellowing or thickening, or signs of lesions or warts. Healthy feet have clean, well-hydrated skin with no cracks in the heels. And, of course, no pain.
For the entire interview, including information on the pedicure tool you should avoid at all costs,
How can you tell if a spa or salon is safe and clean?
Well, my kits were developed because I was seeing so many patients who had infections. You can imagine that the corner nail shops—they're cheap, they have neon signs, the staff doesn't speak English—are not necessarily so clean. There are those salons that obviously don't seem up to code, but there's a risk with all salons when tools aren't cleaned—and by the way, those blue UV light boxes don't necessarily sterilize the tools. It's not the way the medical community cleans its tools.
Aren't Jacuzzi tubs more dangerous than stainless steel bowls?
Yes; most Jacuzzi-type tubs are not supported by the medical community. First, you have to understand how fungus grows. It thrives in moist, warm places: showers at the gym, poolsides and tubs. So if someone with athlete's foot or a fungus uses a tub, once that happens, you have a problem because a lot of tubs with Jacuzzi jets have water that gets recycled. The tub gets refilled with water, and the next person can get nail fungus. You need a free-standing bowl made of stainless steel or glass, and a liner.
For those of us who do our pedicures at home, how can we get soft feet?
Don't use sharp blades on rough heels. I recommend that you don't use credo blades—they're illegal in 22 states. Instead, use a pumice bar or a foot scrub. I developed a foot scrub with pumice in it; you can put it on a washcloth. Follow it with a cream. My Velvet Crème is really ultra-moisturizing. It has urea, which doctors use; I lowered the concentration to an over-the-counter level. Follow this routine three or four times a week and you'll have softer feet.
Are nail ridges normal, or are they a bad sign?
The nails tell a lot about your systemic health. You can get ridging if you've had a shock to the system. But it can also mean nothing, especially if you're young and healthy. If you've had significant changes in your nails, go to your doctor.
Can nail polish stain your nails?
Yes, certain nail polishes have dyes that can stain. A good base coat is important. There are nail polishes that are free of dyes. OPI is a good brand, as is Rescue Nail Lounge.
And is it bad for your nails to always have polish on them?
I wouldn't say it's bad, but it's often good to take a break every few months to let the nails "breathe."