What massage therapists should know about skin allergies

by Dianna Dapkins, Founder, Pure Pro

Fact: Massage Therapists can become allergic to the products they use

Have you experienced skin irritation? Are you worried about allergies to any of the oils or lotions you may be using? I’m going to share the basics – which you may or may NOT have learned in school – that every massage therapist should know about their massage products. Let’s start with your massage lotion. OK, so you LOVE your massage lotion. Perhaps you even use it on almost every client. How long have you been using it? Ever since those days in the school clinic?

Welcome to the ‘sensitive skin’ club . . .

But maybe your hands are now having trouble with it. Maybe they are cracking or becoming red or inflamed. You go to the dermatologist and he tells you the tough news – you most likely have Contact Dermatitis. Your body has become sensitized to the chemicals in that lotion you love. And you can’t work for at least three weeks – the amount of time it takes skin cells to regenerate. Don’t panic. Contact Dermatitis is a common problem for professional MTs, but there are solutions.

First thing off the bat. Listen to the doctor. Take the three weeks off completely. No massage – not with oil or another lotion or anything. Let. Your. Body. REST! If your skin is super inflamed your doc may put you on a steroidal medication. This is a short term fix to get the inflammation gone and a necessary one in the more serious cases.

Rest, then take it slow

Start back at your practice, slowly. Use only one product exclusively for at least a three week period to see how your body responds. If you try several products simultaneously you’ll never know what is triggering the allergic reaction if it returns. I often start people out with a single source, seed oil such as pure Apricot Kernel Massage Oil. This is a fantastic “safety” oil because if you or a client do have a reaction to it – there is only one ingredient and it will be easy to determine the culprit. Even if you “hate” massage oils, do this. A few drops on the fingertips will give you plenty of glide to manipulate the tissue without feeling the “greasiness” of cheaper, food grade oils.

So let’s say the three weeks goes by and your skin feels great. Your practice is back in full swing. This feels great! Now there is the natural temptation to go back to your old fave lotion (hint: don’t) or to try a dozen of the new “natural” massage lotions you’ve seen all over the internet. Double don’t! Stick with the methodical testing of product for your body. Why? You now “officially” have sensitive skin. Pick one product at a time and try it out for three weeks before switching. Chances are there may be some that will irritate very quickly because they have many of the same chemicals that were in the original product that sensitized you in the first place.

Next steps

Diana product labI usually tell people to go from the Apricot Kernel Massage Oil to trying our Pure Pro Ultra Water Dispersible Massage Oil, (again in three week trials) because Pure Pro Ultra looks like an oil but it is really a liquid lotion. It is made from fractionated coconut oil – a natural wax ester similar to your skin’s sebaceous waxes. It is so concentrated you simply coat your fingertips with it. It goes on smooth and you won’t see any sheen on the skin yet the skin will be super workable and give you the glide you need. It is unscented and as gentle as any oil blend can be. Most people find this is a fabulous solution to the Contact Dermatitis problem because it is 100% natural and completely PRESERVATIVE free. (And preservatives such as phenoxyethanol are often the culprit in skin sensitization.)

OK, but what if you still want to go with a lotion? Choose a neutral pH, nut-oil free, phenoxyethanol free lotion such as Pure Pro Hypoallergenic Massage Lotion. This massage lotion is used in oncology massage units in hospitals nationwide and is a favorite among therapists doing elder massage, hospice care, pregnancy massage, deep tissue sports and rehab massage as well as facial massage. It is super gentle, light and clean on the skin.

Last but not least: Take care of yourself so your clients can trust in your touch! If you have skin issues or develop them over time, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send an email. I look forward to helping you!

Dianna Dapkins, Founder, Pure Pro

Editor’s Note:  Pure Pro is a therapist-owned company and like At Peace® Massage, works hard every day to offer excellent products and responsive customer service. Dianna always thinks about maintaining your skin health when she is formulating products. That’s one of the many reasons why we’re delighted to welcome Pure Pro as a sponsor of the 2013 Tools for Touch™ CE Webinar series.

This guest blog post by Dianna Dapkins is especially relevant because she created Pure Pro as a response to challenges she faced with her own very sensitive skin. She told us, “I literally could not use most of the products out there. I had to make my own oils, lotions and creams from scratch.”

Registration is still open for:

March 5 Tools for Touch CE Webinar featuring live video demos from NCBTMB-approved providers. Earn up to 9 CE hours and gain access to special content from Dianna Dapkins at Pure Pro including tips and techniques, simple solutions and recommendations on how best to take care of your equipment, including bottles and pumps.


from the At Peace Massage Studio