How can I give myself a safe pedicure at home?

James P. Ioli, DPM
Podiatric Medicine
If you want to try a pedicure at home (or if you wish to purchase your own tools), you can usually find a basic kit at your local pharmacy. It should include orange sticks, foam separators for toes, files, and emery boards, as well as lotions, soaps, and soaks. You can use a pumice stone or a file to gently remove calluses. These directions may help:
  • Fill a pan or basin with warm water. You can also add Epsom salts, oils, or mild cleansers.
  • Soak your feet for five minutes or so, until the skin and nails soften.
  • Dry your feet with a towel. Don't forget your toes and the areas between them.
  • Gently rub a pumice stone against your skin, paying special attention to your heels and toes, to remove any dead skin cells. Be careful not to rub too hard, or you'll damage the skin.
  • Take care of the cuticles. First, rub lotion or oil onto your toenails to soften the cuticles (the thin layer of skin at the bottom and sides of your toenail). Then gently push the cuticles back to the base of the nails, using an orange stick or a moist washcloth. Don't cut the cuticles; that could lead to infection.
  • Clean underneath your nails with an orange stick wrapped in cotton or soaked in water to soften the edge. (Try not to use metal sticks or nail files, which might cut your skin and lead to infection.)
  • Cut your toenails straight across with a toe clipper, or by making a series of small snips with nail scissors. Smooth the edges of any rough nails with an emery board.
  • Apply foot lotion to your feet, rubbing it gently into the skin. If you are going to apply nail polish, wipe excess lotion from the toenails using a cotton ball soaked with rubbing alcohol.
  • Apply nail polish. First, use foam toe separators or cotton balls to separate your toes. Then apply the polish. Allow each coat to dry for several minutes. Wait an hour before putting on socks and shoes, so the nail polish won't smudge or chip.
  • Clean up. If you share your pedicure kit with someone else in the house, throw away the emery board and orange stick. (If you're the only person using the kit, you can keep them in a clean, dry place.) Scrub any metal tools, such as toe clippers or scissors, with soap and water; then disinfect them in an antibacterial solution. Again, if you are the only person who uses them, cleaning and disinfecting with alcohol, Lysol, or peroxide should be sufficient. Clean the basin in the same manner.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.