A contraindication is a pre-existing medical condition that could either put you or your client at risk, should a beauty treatment be carried out, on the other hand, a contra-action is when a reaction occurs either during or immediately after treatment.
There are three kinds of common contraindications that would prevent or restrict your clients from receiving treatment. Each case should be assessed individually and addressed in accordance with its severity.
Total contraindications are conditions that prevent your clients from receiving beauty treatments due to their illness-causing too much of a risk. For example, having a significant high fever would prevent you from being able to have a massage treatment as this would increase your temperature even further.
Relative contraindication relates to a situation where a therapist may proceed with the treatment with a doctor note, but they may need to modify certain techniques used which relates to the client’s condition, for example, using a lighter pressure during a massage treatment.
Local contraindications restrict beauty treatments by avoiding the area affected or require confirmation from a doctor that a beauty treatment can indeed be carried out. Examples of local contraindications would be bruising, cuts, sunburn or undiagnosed lumps or bumps.
The following are a selection of common contraindications found in the beauty industry. In order to ensure that you’re doing the best that you can to identify any contraindications in your clients, it might be a good idea to always ask your customers to complete a comprehensive questionnaire, covering some of the most widespread illnesses and disorders.
Virus / Bacterial / Fungal Infections. Any kind of infection poses a risk to you as the treatment provider. Many viruses and bacteria are airborne, meaning that they can be transferred via air. This could result in you contracting the infection yourself or it being passed onto other, healthy clients. Fungi particles could also be transported via equipment onto surfaces within your treatment room or salon resulting in further spread of the infection. As a beauty therapist you should always make sure that your working space and equipment is sterile. As an extra precaution and to minimise the risk of any kind of infection spreading, you should refuse to carry out treatments such as makeup application and facial massage to clients suffering from an infection.
Conjunctivitis. A condition caused by infections or allergies. It usually resolves itself within a couple of weeks but could be highly contagious. This could pose a risk to yourself as well as other clients being treated in your salon. Many beauty treatments involve skin-to-skin contact around the face such as facials, eyelash extensions and microblading to name a few. These types of treatments could initiate the spread of the infection. Even if the treatment does not involve the face, you should delay the treatment until the eye is healed, as viruses and bacteria spread easily, even in sterile environments.
Undiagnosed Lumps or Swelling. If you notice any lumps or swelling of the face or neck, as the treatment provider, it is your responsibility to enquire about them. If your client is unaware of the cause of the issue, refer them to their GP before providing treatment. Swelling or lumps could be, and usually are, harmless. However, sometimes they could be a symptom of a serious condition and providing any treatment, including the application of makeup, could worsen the condition. For your own protection, it is worth asking your client to provide a medical note once they’re cleared to receive beauty treatments.
Skin Conditions. Some skin conditions such as severe acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, recent bruising and open sores should prevent beauty treatment to minimise the risk of transmission, as some conditions could be infections. Any facial treatment could also aggravate the condition of your client, which could lead to compensation claims being brought against you. If your client suffers from any conditions of the skin, ask them to provide a medical note confirming that the treatment is safe to perform before carrying it out. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Cancer. Clients suffering from cancer are likely to be undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which has a severe impact on a person’s body, including their immune system. Cancer patients could be at risk of contracting an infection and might not be strong enough to fight it off, so it is important for them to avoid public spaces such as beauty salons.
Head Lice. A human parasite that is extremely easy to contract. Clients with head lice should be turned away and refused treatment until the problem is resolved. This is because even if all possible precautions are taken it is still not unfeasible to prevent contamination. If you are qualified to do so, you can advise your client on treatments against head lice that can be done at home or through a GP.
Recent scarring. Scarring that is less than 6 months old could prevent beauty treatments or limit them by avoiding the affected area. Fresh scarring should not be put under any undue stress that can occur as a result of some beauty treatments such as facial cleansing, microdermabrasion & massage. Broken skin should be given time to heal as disturbing the affected area could worsen the condition. Old scars should also be inspected and if any redness is seen, you should refrain from treating the area.
Recently consumed drugs/alcohol – including some prescription drugs. Drugs and alcohol impact blood pressure and heart rate significantly. A person under the influence of both illegal and legal substances can also be acting out of character and potentially pose danger to those around them. They are also unable to provide consent to treatment, so any beauty therapy should be avoided.
Other contraindications include pregnancy, back problems, broken bones, varicose veins, tooth abscesses, bleeding to the face, recent haemorrhage, claustrophobia, recent head or neck injury, fever and other infectious diseases such as AIDS.
All of your clients should be assessed on an individual basis and those suffering from serious conditions should be made aware about the risks that come with certain beauty treatments and medical notes should be obtained where applicable.
A good way to assess your clients would be to ask them to complete a client record card/questionnaire before the treatment and to complete a patch test on the treatments where required to do so. You should refer to your training and follow manufacturers advice to know when to complete a patch test.
However, you can’t rely on every single customer to disclose their medical conditions to you. Some of them might not be aware that their condition could affect the way their treatment is to be carried out and will therefore not think to mention it, while others might have underlying conditions that they don’t know about.
To cover all bases, you should always make sure that you have an insurance plan in place that protects you from compensation claims brought against you.
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