Skin Pathologies

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Moles are mostly benign, but the following signs may indicate the development of skin cancer

Potential indications of skin cancer

Assymetry (not symmetrical)
Border (blurry/jagged)
Color – changes in color including darkening, spread of color, or appearance of multiple colors
Diameter – a mole wider than ¼ inch
Elevation – raised from the skin

Here's a good image showing these differences.

Fungal infection

Ringworm.jpgTinea .jpg

The above pictures (PHIL) show ringworm on the left, and tinea (or athlete's foot) on the right. Massage should be avoided, as cross-contamination or spread of the fungus may then occur.


400px       Image courtesy of Care_SMC

If skin is intact, massage is not contraindicated & can help. Dermatitis has been found to respond extremely well to massage treatment (Schachner, Field, Hernandez-Reif, Duarte, Krasnegor, 1998).

If skin is broken or blistered, massage is contraindicated.


Psoriasis1.jpgPsoriasis2.jpg (Images courtesy of PHIL)

Locally contraindicated in the acute phase, otherwise massage may help.

Can I massage my client?

Clearly it's not easy to distinguish some of these skin conditions. In some cases it would be beneficial to the client to receive a massage and would be safe for the therapist (e.g. psoriasis), in other cases it would lead to problems for either client or therapist (e.g fungal infections). If you look at the psoriasis image on the right and the ringworm image you can see that it would be difficult to distinguish which condition either was.

Rules of thumb

  • Do not massage if the skin is broken, blistered or inflamed
  • Seek a doctor's diagnosis if you are not sure