Manicures and pedicures during pregnancy— Are they safe?

There are many beneficial effects associated with the growing body of a pregnant woman. Many women savor the nail and hair growth that often accompanies pregnancy.  These beauty “enhancements” are due to increased hormone production that supports the growing baby and expectant mother. Additionally, a healthy pregnancy diet and prenatal vitamins such as biotin, a B-complex vitamin has been associated with healthy, thick and firm nails.

Given the exponential growth of the pregnant woman’s nails, regularly she contemplates how to best care for her nails.  As such, many women wonder, “are manicures and pedicures safe during pregnancy?”  By most accounts, the answer to this question is “Yes”, with a few precautions.

Health and safety recommendations for nail care include maintaining nail hygiene, such as keeping nails clean and dry; avoiding biting or picking at nails; applying moisturizer to nails; and gently pushing cuticles back instead of cutting them.  As a nail salon client, pregnant women should ensure that fumes from nail polish and other chemicals are routinely cycled out of the building via adequate ventilation. As well, salon products should be sterilized to prevent disease and infection transmission.

There are benefits and harms associated with personal and professional nail care. Grooming and pampering services such as manicures, pedicures, and the accompanying massages offer aesthetic benefits of improved appearance of long thick nails and soft, smooth skin. For pregnant women with nails that are brittle, develop grooves or separate from the nail bed, nail services are even more useful for removing sharp, irregular, unkempt nails that could cause injury or be the site of infections. Additionally, the foot and leg massages that accompany pedicures are of particular benefit as they increase circulation and reduce swelling. The manicures offer arm and hand stimulation that has also been associated the health benefit of relaxation.

Despite the beneficial health and aesthetic effects of manicures and pedicures, the risk of chemical exposure is real and can be pronounced.  Chemicals such as acetone, formaldehyde, and toluene are often used in nail polish and polish remover. In large doses, these chemicals can cause respiratory problems.  Fortunately, the levels of exposure generally found in salons are not sufficient to cause such harm. Biweekly manicures and pedicures from safe, professional nail salons or as a part of in-home spa treatments, can be both an enjoyable and healthy experience.



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