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What's the difference between a nail technician, Foot Health Practitioner and Podiatrist?

Who is the right person to do your feet?

Many people are confused about who is the right person to do their feet.

It depends what you want doing and what outcomes you are looking for.

If you are looking for a fluff and a buff as I like to call it then a nail technician is the person you need.

They will cut your nails to a nice shape and undoubtably you'll expect some nail colour to be applied as well. They will do false nails, remember there is a lot of different options and types here and it will depend upon what you're having done to your nails as to what type.

Nail technicians are more about trends and fashion. They'll know how to do all the pretty stuff. You'll expect them to have some sort of beauty qualification and training to do what they do. You would expect a nail technician to be the cheapest option also.

Next up is a Foot Health Practitioner (FHP). This is what I am qualified as. It is a professional qualification with training and as such a good FHP will be registered under the Professional Standards Authority and Alliance of Foot Health Practitioners or similar.

A FHP will keep notes about you and what was done at each visit. A FHP will cost more than a nail technician as a reflection of more expansive training and knowledge.

A FHP will cut your nails to the best shape (it should still look good, but it is less about aesthetics and more about health). Any hard skin or corns can be dealt with.

A FHP should be able to advise you and help you on how to deal with everyday issues such as hard skin, corns, athletes foot and fungal infections. They should also be able to treat people with conditions such as diabetes (so long as there are no serious complications).

Some FHPs may have further qualifications to do things such as medical toenail reconstructions (where you have part or all of the nail missing), specialised treatments for fungal nails, treat mild ingrowing toenails, give gait analysis for orthotics etc.

Next up are Podiatrists. The term Chiropodist is not considered correct to use although it is the most familiar with a lot of people. A podiatrist will have a degree and higher qualifications which means they will deal with more serious foot health concerns and issues because they have a more expansive knowledge.

A podiatrist will keep detailed notes and will be more interested to know a more detailed medical history also. A podiatrist will be a lot more expensive, but you'll be expecting more specialised treatment from them (unless of course you have a referral to see an NHS podiatrist).

If you had ulcerated toes for instance, it would be appropriate for me to recommend you see a podiatrist and possibly your Dr (if you need antibiotics and to make sure your medical records are updated) because of the risk of infection and other serious complications.

Podiatrists can do minor surgical procedures so you may need to see a podiatrist if you had a severely infected ingrowing toenail for instance which needed anaesthetic etc to remove it.

A podiatrist would deal with people with severe gait issues and dystrophies of the foot etc where it is likely you would need specialised help and also correct diagnosis.

Most people come to see a Foot Health Practitioner (FHP) because they are unable to do their feet themselves and need some help with other issues of their foot.

You get a better standard of treatment than if you see a nail technician simply because a FHP should be following stricter protocols with regards to hygiene etc. A good FHP will also refer you on for further advice from a Dr or Podiatrist as appropriate.

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