One question that is often asked is why would gloves be worn by a massage therapist during treatment. Are there safety concerns that mandate wearing gloves while giving massage therapy? It certainly is different to have a massage with the therapist wearing gloves. But should they?
It is sometimes a mandated requirement for massage therapists to wear medical gloves. There are clear-cut reasons why a massage therapist may need to wear gloves during treatment. The first would be if the patient has requested it. The second would be when a therapist decides it is necessary in order to be compliant with public safety protocols.
In years past, massage therapists have been providing treatment glove-free. However, is it always the right choice? In our current day, there are more new and seasoned massage therapists that are using medical gloves while doing their job. There is an increasing number of professionals that are incorporating gloves as an option in their service. Let’s talk about the reasons for this.
Why Would My Massage Therapist Be Wearing Gloves?
For a variety of situations, a massage therapist may decide to wear gloves.
- Broken Skin. To avoid the risk of cross-contamination, a massage therapist would wear gloves if the patient or the professional had a laceration on their skin, like on the hand or finger.
- Communicable Disease. Patients that have contagious skin disease like ringworm must seek their physician for medical treatment and be completely healed before pursuing massage treatment. If the patient has a localized infection, like Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), the professional may need to perform treatment wearing gloves for added protection while avoiding the area of the infection.
- Chemotherapy. Patients with cancer can benefit greatly from massage therapy. Yet, chemotherapy can be transferred through skin-to-skin contact. Patients must communicate with their therapist if they have recently had cancer treatment so that the professional can wear gloves and be protected.
- Intra-oral Massage. A kind of massage treatment that assists in alleviating jaw issues like TMJ dysfunction is called Intra-oral massage. A massage therapist would use medical gloves during this kind of massage that is inside of the client or patient’s mouth.
Why My Massage Therapist Would Add Gloves to His or Her Equipment
The use of gloves during massage therapy can be an important aspect of having a successful treatment. It can also provide an array of benefits that the patient and therapist would enjoy. Here are some reasons why.
- Offers Maximum Protection. If the professional’s hands have bruising or the patient has a lesion then the treatment can be a problem. A massage without wearing gloves can be worrisome. Wearing a good pair of gloves can be best for everyone’s safety.
- Reduces the Chances of Infections. Clean hands inside of sterile gloves not only lessons the spread of a contagious disease but it also substantially minimizes the risk of bacterial infections. This can only benefit the patient, especially someone who suffers from a chronic disease and must avoid any other health problems.
- Help Aid in Quick Recovery. Cautious service and care must be given to patients who have gone through cancer treatment or other delicate procedures. Following strict sanitation guidelines and using medical gloves when providing massage treatment helps a patient recover sooner and better.
- Evade Serious Skin Problems. Massage therapists should have trimmed and clean nails to avoid scratching the skin of their clients and bruising. Bacteria and debris can hide under fingernails. To increase the sanitation level of service, a professional can use effective gloves while working.
What Kind of Gloves Should My Massage Therapist Use?
Medical grade gloves are usually the type of gloves massage therapists use. Generally, we use nitrile. Another common type of gloves are latex, which are very effective at providing protection from infectious elements. Some people are allergic to latex gloves, and the oils used in massage break down latex causing them to tear.
If you have a latex allergy, be sure to let your massage therapist know ahead of time. This way they can ensure to have suitable latex-free gloves for use during your treatment.
Acceptable gloves that massage therapist wear during treatment are:
Types of gloves that are not used by massage therapists due to thickness level and being superfluous, or due to their fragility to massage oils are:
Our team of massage therapists will avoid latex gloves simply because some patients may have a latex allergy, and they aren’t reliable when combined with massage oils. We will wash and dry our hands before putting gloves on; apply gloves after entering the room; properly remove prior to leaving the room; and will never reuse our disposable gloves. If you are somewhere else receiving massage, and your therapist happens to pull out a pair of thick, heavy-duty rubber gloves, you may want to re-think your appointment. But it is doubtful this would ever happen.
My Massage Therapist Is not Using Gloves, Should I Be Worried?
Not at all. Unless there is a definitive reason why they should be, it is not mandatory for your massage therapist to wear gloves. With the exception of the above listed reasons, most massage therapists do not use gloves.
What is vital, is that you communicate with your massage therapist before your appointment about any infections, cuts, bruises, or recent cancer treatments you have had. Also, let your professional know if you have a latex allergy before coming into your appointment if there does end up being a reason to use gloves.
With both, you and your therapist in good, healthy physical status and if you are not having an intra-oral massage, you can rest assured that it is safe for your massage therapist to not use gloves during treatment.
Why Aren’t Gloves Used During Massage Therapy in General?
It might seem strange with all the protective advantages that gloves aren’t worn all the time during massage therapy. There are several reasons for this.
- Skin to skin contact boosts the positive chemicals in the brain.
When you experience a skin-to-skin massage, the production of dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin in the brain increases. Moods are better regulated and anxiety and stress decreases as these chemicals are released. The body’s natural painkiller, endorphins are also released through massage.
- Skin to skin contact lessens stress hormones.
Studies have shown that massage therapy minimizes the stress hormone cortisol. When your body has too much cortisol, it can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, irritability, headaches are more.
- Skin to skin contact makes it easier to feel connective tissue.
When bare hands are used on the skin, it makes is easy for your therapist to feel the connecting tissue under your skin. This allows your therapist to measure the tension level in your muscles and adjust accordingly.
- Skin to skin contact is more soothing.
Direct human touch is very calming. And simply put, glove-wearing during a massage may be awkward and uncomfortable for both the patient and the therapist.
It’s true that using gloves for massage therapy is not convenient or common. However, gloves should always be available as an option. If a patient asks for gloves to be worn, a therapist should honor that request even knowing that the massage may not be as effective as it would be without gloves.