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Pedicures are a necessity for some California seniors. Closed nail salons leave them at risk

By Maria Sestito at the Desert Sun July 16, 2020

When Sharon Baker parked in front of the Five Star Nail & Spa, she hesitated. The 77-year-old has mostly stayed inside her Palm Springs home with her husband during the coronavirus pandemic. 

That is, until last month when nail salons in Riverside County opened back up.

“It was very hard for me,” Baker said. “I cannot cut my toenails and scrub the back of my feet.”

Because Baker has diabetes, she said, she needs to be extra careful — it can lead to nerve damage where she might not feel an infection. If Baker doesn’t take care of her feet, she could lose them, she said. 

But that didn’t make her first trip back to the nail salon any less fraught. “You might imagine the trepidation,” said Baker, a cancer survivor who had pneumonia last year.

When she walked into the Palm Springs salon, though, she was pleased with what she saw. 

Her temperature was taken at the door. She filled out a quick medical questionnaire. There were Plexiglas partitions installed around each station and, she said, the workers cleaned them between clients. Everyone wore a mask. 

“They went above and beyond,” Baker said. “I was really happy.”

But now, not even those willing to mask up will be able to head to the nail salon. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday ordered indoor personal services, including nail salons in many counties, to close again. The move leaves some seniors— for whom pedicures aren’t a luxury but a necessity — to struggle once again to maintain their own foot health. For many older Californians, routine pedicures can help prevent infections — they aren’t just about having pretty feet.

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