By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
A pedicure is a usually fun activity to pamper yourself and to get those pretty feet you can show off in open shoes. However, for many people, pedicures are a vital part of their health regime.
Traditional cosmetic pedicures focus on making your toenails look good and getting rid of some dead skin. However, experts warn that they often overlook or mask real problems you may have with your feet.
A medical pedicure, which can particularly benefit diabetics, arthritis sufferers and cancer patients, addresses conditions such athlete's foot, corns, calluses and ingrown or overgrown toenails.
This procedure is done by a healthcare professional who is trained in basic foot disorders - soft tissue and nail conditions. It involves a five-step process that addresses skin and nail needs using sterile instruments.
Dina Barnett, foot health practitioner at Healthy Feet on Shirley Street, told Tribune Health when performing a medical pedicure she further ensures safety and good practice by discouraging soaking or the use of nail polish.
Ms Barnett developed her vision for Health Feet while working under pioneering podiatrist Dr Deborah Raine. She recalled one of her defining moments occurred during an appointment with an elderly man.
"When I saw his condition I was astonished and I ran to Dr Raine in such a panic and asked what can we do for him because a flesh eating bacteria had taken the first layer of skin of his feet....And that ignited a fire that was never put out," she said.
Ms Barnett went off to England to earn the necessary qualifications and in 2009, opened Healthy Feet. She prides herself on only using 100 percent all-natural products that are made locally. The product line consists of herbal oils designed to combat bacterial and fungal pathogens, while at the same time moisturising the skin and nails.
"We use an umbrella term to give our client base - the recognisable term, medical pedicure - however, our services cover a vast scope: nail fungus, ingrown toenails, cracked heels, thick nails, damaged acrylic nails, cracks between the toes, senior foot care, corns, and calluses," said Ms Barnett. They also do house calls.
"The number one reason I opened my doors was to offer caring and affordable services so that (pensioners) can come in and get their feet done at a superior standard and not have to worry about a large bill; or a diabetic who desperately needs his nails taken care of by a professional because he can no longer do it because he is losing his eyesight," she said.
"I believe my country needs my company, if only just to save one diabetic from losing his toe, feet or lower limbs due to the lack of affordable and available care."
Ms Barnett said they have also been seeing an increasing number of people with damaged acrylic nails seeking out their services.
"They have been poorly educated as to how long acrylic should and can be worn. Therefore, we have partnered with Dr Daniel Johnson to create a system to allow podiatrists, foot health practitioners and nail technicians to work together to better address the foot care issue that is on the rise. So with great anticipation, Healthy Feet is moving forward to help create healthy, better feet in my Bahamas," she said.