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Health, Massage environment, The massage, Tools

Hygiene in massage

Hygiene is very important when you massage, especially in these times where the threat of the new flu is hanging over us. We as therapists are very aware of the situation and take our precautions.

For a normal massage we do the following:

  • Wash our hands before and after a massage.
  • Change sheets and towels, so a client will always have fresh clean sheets and towels.
  • Wash towels and sheets at minimum 60 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature normally recommended to avoid the spreading of sickness.
  • Change t-shirt if it’s been in contact with the client.
  • Wiping massage table/chair with an antibacterial cloth between clients.
  • Making sure the environment is clean and tidy, as well as ourselves.

When using tools for a massage, these also needs to be disinfected and cleaned properly between massages to avoid the spreading of especially skin-related diseases. For hot stone massage this is even more important as the hot water can provide for a very good environment for bacteria.

Most bacteria and viruses related to human health thrives at a temperature around 37 degrees Celsius. This is why the body induces fever to raise the temperature to get rid of the enemies. Some can withstand higher temperatures and the official Danish recommendation to wash the clothes of sick people in households, is minimum 60 degrees. For hospitals and the like, the temperature need to be 95, close to boiling, to be certain.

Fortunately, sick people normally don’t get massages, so the risk of spreading any disease is small to begin with. There can be undiscovered skin-conditions, not to mention, we all carry a load of bacteria on our skin through our daily interaction with our environment. These bacteria can be transferred onto the stones and when placed in warm water, some will die and some will begin to thrive.

Depending on the temperature of the water, more or less of the bacteria will die. The normal temperature range for a LaStone, around 54 degrees Celsius, is hot enough to kill most bacteria, but not all. This is why it’s important to ensure proper hygiene with the stones and the water that heats them. For the cold stones, the cold only serves to put the bacteria to sleep, and once they get into contact with the warm skin, they’ll wake up and thrive.

To ensure proper hygiene of the stones used in massage, we do the following:

  • Sanitation tablets or other antiseptic products is the water of the heater. This way we ensure that bacteria can’t survive in the warm water and be transferred onto the next client.
  • Sanitation of the cold stones before they return to the cooler. Ethanol (pure alcohol) is one of the best, but other products with antiseptic properties can be used.
  • By the end of the day, all the stones are carefully washed with dish washing soap, including the cooler and heater, and left out to dry out during the night.

If you’re in doubt if your therapist has changed the water in the heater or use antiseptic products, do ask to be shown what he does and ask into the routines. There are cases in the past where bad hygiene has closed down spas, without it being the fault of the therapy form, but rather the therapists not being aware of the risks and bewares.

Any well trained massage therapists knows these hygiene rules and follow them, keeping the well-being and health of their clients first in mind. It is part of their training and will be incorporated into their daily routines.

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About Pia Poulsen

Pia Poulsen is educated as a wellness massage therapist at Institut FIGARI in Paris, from where she passed her certification exam in January 2008. Since then she has expanded her skills to become the first Advanced LaStone® practitioner in France as well as a certified LaStone® instructor.


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