Massage for Summer Skin Care
July is Summer Skin Care Month! Summer skin care is vital for the life-long health of your skin and, in fact, your entire body! Massage therapy is one of the few modalities that physically touches a person on about 90 percent of their skin. Medical doctors, nurses and physical therapists do not do this, neither do most other wellness professionals. It is a great responsibility and an opportunity to provide healthy touch that helps with such things as circulation, toxin elimination and stress reduction – and in keeping the skin healthy as well.
Skin Anatomy Overview
What most people call skin is made up of three main layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis.
- The epidermis is what we see. It is the most superficial layer – a water-resistant barrier against germs, bacteria and viruses. It also protects the deeper layers of more sensitive tissue from everyday bumps and bruises.
- The dermis, just below the epidermis, contains touch connective tissue, hair follicles and sweat glands.
- The hypodermis, the deepest layer, made of adipose (fat) and connective tissues.
Covering an average area of 20 square feet, skin is the largest organ in the body. It protects us against external elements, eliminates waste through sweat, helps regulate body temperature and enables us to feel hot, cold and pressure.
The skin is semi-permeable, meaning it lets in certain substances. A thin coating of sebum – natural body oil – nourishes the skin.
Massage Therapist as a First Line of Defense
A massage therapist sometimes sees more of a person’s skin than anyone else in their life – maybe not all at once, but in sections, as the draping is moved around during a treatment. It is challenging for us to get a good view of certain areas our own bodies. No matter how you twist and turn, the back and neck are difficult to see well. This goes for backs of arms and legs, too. The average person is also not educated as to what to look for when it comes to skin health.
A responsible massage therapist with pathology training will know the signs of skin cancer, psoriasis, rashes and fungal infections, and will advise you to see your doctor if there is cause for further evaluation.
A massage therapist can also tell the difference between a bruise from an accidental bump and one caused by domestic abuse. (A massage therapist may be a mandated reporter of abuse; check with your local regulating agency.)
A massage therapist cannot diagnose. It is well beyond the scope of practice as defined by most state laws. What a massage therapist can do is advise a client to see his or her primary care physician or other healthcare professional if there is a concern.