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Dear Iris: Self Care at the Spa

Dear Iris,

First, I’ve got some good news: I’m feeling much better than I was last month. Feeling so good, in fact, that I’m able to go to my niece’s wedding. Once we arrive in town, a few family members are going to get their nails done. I’ve been invited, but I’m not sure if there’s a risk in getting a manicure or pedicure while on my treatment. Should I decline and just paint mine at home or can I join the party?


Dear P,

I’m so glad you’re feeling better! That’s something to celebrate on its own. Now to your question…

A manicure or pedicure can present an infection risk in anyone who has lower than normal immune system defenses. Since you’re going through treatment right now, you’re included in this group.

Treatment protocols are specific to each person, so it’s a good idea to check with your medical team about your personal risk of infection. If you get the go-ahead, there are a few things to keep in mind:  

  1. Make sure the salon you’re planning to visit has strict cleaning and sterilizing practices. It’s probably not a great time to try out a new salon unless you can get familiar with their standards beforehand. 

  2. Make sure the nail technician does not cut or trim your cuticles. You should avoid any instruments that could puncture or cut the skin. 

  3. Ask your technician to only use cardboard or soft material nail files — no electric files.

Since it sounds like you would be visiting a new-to-you salon, my best advice would be to opt for color only. Getting your nails painted does not pose a high risk and it would allow you to join in on the festivities.

Have fun celebrating at the wedding!

Missed last week? Dear Iris: Are Crowds Safe?

Jenna Rush, RN

Oncology RN Team Lead

Iris Oncology

Jenna Rush worked as a nurse in pediatrics and cardiac/thoracic and vascular surgery before finding her home in oncology nursing in 2012. Jenna is particularly passionate about patient education, advocating for patients, and supporting holistic care models. Second to being a mother, oncology nursing is her life's highest purpose — caring for people during some of the most difficult, scary, and uncertain times of their life.

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.