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While most physicians agree that it is perfectly safe to get a manicure when pregnant, there are a handful of tips that pregnant women should follow to mitigate unnecessary risks. Most relate to germ reduction and the prevention of infection. To prevent the inhalation of potentially harmful fumes, pregnant women should only get manicures in well-ventilated areas, and extended exposure to the chemicals in many nail polishes and manicure supplies should be limited.
A woman looking to get a manicure while pregnant would be wise to first discuss all potential risks with her physician. Pregnancy precautions rarely include manicures, but doctors will be able to provide specific warnings and advice tailored to each patient. Infections, fume inhalation, and toxin exposure tend to be much riskier during pregnancy.
One of the most common tips for getting a manicure when pregnant is to bring one’s own manicure supplies. A professional manicure technician typically uses nail scissors, cuticle cutters, and nail brushes in the course of prepping nails for polish. So long as these tools are properly sterilized between customers, there is little risk of infection or disease transmission. If the tools are not adequately cleaned, however, they can harbor harmful bacteria. Nail infections are usually easy to fight, but pose a risk to developing fetuses that is easy to mitigate with a minor investment in personal supplies.
Women should also seek out well-ventilated nail salons when getting a manicure when pregnant. Pregnancy hormones often heighten a woman’s sense of smell, and the smell of chemicals common to manicures can cause nausea or discomfort. Some of the more common salon fumes can also be harmful if inhaled for any length of time. If the nail salon also performs hair treatments or uses chemicals for cosmetic procedures, residual particles can be released into the air. Pregnant women should avoid chemical inhalation at all costs.
Most nail varnishes are safe for use in a manicure when pregnant. There is some controversy with respect to whether nail polishes containing the chemical phthalate are acceptable for use on pregnant women, however. Phthalate is a plasticizer used to help the varnish apply in a smooth, even fashion. Some studies have linked the compound to birth defects in animals, but whether there is any risk to humans — and whether that risk is realized with only a topical application to fingernails — remains very much in dispute. Just the same, pregnant women often request phthalate-free nail enamels for their manicures.
At minimum, pregnant women should make their professional manicure specialist aware of the pregnancy. Trained manicure professionals should be well-versed in the risks associated with getting a manicure when pregnant and should be able to recommend safe products and procedures. If a technician does not seem to understand the possible risks, a pregnant woman should probably seek services elsewhere.
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