Risk level

Hands as tools

Using your hands, you can make people better by softening up tight muscles and preventing and easing pain. Knowledge of anatomy and how the body works is important for masseurs, as is an enjoyment of working with people. Masseurs use their hands as tools and they are sensitive to frequent washing and oils.

What are the risks?

Giving massages is tough on the skin of the hands, despite the fact that oils, creams and liniments are used during treatments. Frequent handwashing is necessary, as your hands must be clean at all times. The skin is sensitive to this and you can end up with hand eczema, where the skin becomes dry, red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch.

Sports balm and liniment contain preservatives that can cause contact allergy. Fragranced essential oils can also cause contact allergy and coughs.

Prevention and avoidance

It's a good idea to use fragrance-free products when giving massages.

If you suffer from eczema or did so when you were little (atopic eczema), you should think carefully before deciding to become a masseur, as the work can cause it to come back or get worse. If you do get hand eczema, it will be hard to carry on working as a masseur.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or want to know more about allergy and eczema when working as a masseur, get in touch with your school nurse or careers adviser.