Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2013

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for more information Bodyworkers should always watch for signs of disease in their clients. You may be the first and only person to notice symptoms that appear on a client's skin or nails—symptoms of conditions as diverse as lupus, skin cancer, or thyroid disease. While it's not a massage therapist's role to diagnose any illness, being aware of the first signs of these conditions will help you know when it's time to suggest a doctor visit to your clients. Here is a short refresher on five of the most important signs you might see. 1. Butterfly Rash This is a facial rash characterized by its shape: the middle part of the butterfly is on the bridge of the client's nose, with "wings" extending onto the cheeks. "It can signify a range of diseases, from milder conditions like rosacea, significant acne, eczema, and psoriasis, all the way to serious autoimmune connective-tissue disorders such as lupus," says Joseph Jorizzo, MD, professor and founding the client know that they should call within the next couple of days to set up an appointment. It's also important to make a note in their file about what you found and who you referred them to." What about those delicate situations where you need to refuse service because the client has an chair of the dermatology department at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Salem, North Carolina. 2. Infections "Bodyworkers should look for any sign of infection, such as a cold sore, which is characterized by a painful bump or blister on the face or nose," says Jill Weinstein, MD, instructor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University in Chicago. "This may be caused by herpes simplex." Both viral and bacterial infections may appear as pustules or tender lesions. They can sometimes look like acne, but may also be bigger or more isolated than a pimple, Weinstein says. While a doctor referral is not always required for these conditions, you should avoid touching the areas in question so the infection is not spread to other parts of the client's body, to yourself, or to other clients. 3. Patchy Hair MTs should be alert for round, patchy areas of hair loss that can be a sign of an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata, Jorizzo says. infection or otherwise problematic skin condition? Susanne Schmaling, a licensed esthetician and director of education for Associated Skin Care Professionals, says, "I never get specific about the disease, but describe the characteristics of what I see. If I have to refuse service due to open lesions, irritation, infection, or other unusual appearance of the skin, my statement is, 'I am concerned that I will cause this infection (or rash, or whatever) to get worse if I work on this area today.' You can also suggest an alternative if possible, such as a relaxation massage avoiding that part of the body." See what benefits await you. 99

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