Covid-19: how the virus and vaccines can impact beauty treatments
Have your clients experienced unusual and/or extreme responses to face and body treatments recently? It seems that reports of skin reactions, altered treatment outcomes and/or feeling very unwell after a lash, brow, skin body or massage treatment are on the rise, and the reason for this is of no surprise – the coronavirus pandemic has had a profound effect on public health.
The primary factors that have impacted this change in health status in a large proportion of the population includes contracting coronavirus, acute and chronic stress, and having the vaccination. Each of these factors has a direct impact on immunity and on how our body responds to products and services.
With varying severity of illness suffered by those that have contracted Covid-19, there is an increasing awareness of the potential for longer-term impacts. Evidence is mounting on the issues with long Covid-19 and systemic inflammation.
In addition to the direct impact of the virus is the initiating of the body’s immune response through vaccination. Many who have received the vaccination have reported side effects. While the vast majority are mild, they serve as a reminder that we are likely to experience some effects as a result of this heightened immune response.
What are the implications for the personal care industry?
Our industry is well aware of the effect stress can have on the body and skin. Intense and prolonged stress increases the sustained release of the neurotransmitters calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and Substance P, both of which increase skin sensitivity and inflammatory response.
This makes clients highly susceptible to undesirable treatment effects including burning, rashes, triggering existing inflammatory disorders, and causing irritant/allergic dermatitis.
As the cornerstone to determining treatment suitability, understanding the health of every client booking a service is essential. All therapists have a responsibility to ensure clients are safe, not only from virus transmission, but are protected from unexpected, unwelcome, and, in some instances, severe, treatment side-effects.
Checking that clients have not become contraindicated to treatment due to changes in health, or that skin has become unusually responsive due to changes in immunity, may mean additional procedures, protocols and patch testing.
Find out more about Dermalogica skills-led training and education programmes and how you can partner with the brand.
What extra precautions should I be taking with my services?
While it has always been standard practice to consult prior to every service, long periods of coronavirus lockdown, high demand and commercial pressure must not lead to shortcuts on these vital checks. You may even find that your insurers and professional trade organisations have specific requirements in this regard.
Most manufacturers and insurers would expect a patch test to be re-performed if a customer had not received the service or procedure in the past six months because so much can change with a client’s health over that time period.
Covid-19 has re-emphasised how important these patch tests are. Given that many customers will not have had services for six months or more, and the effect Covid-19 has had in changing status of health across the general population, this subject has come to the top of the agenda for trade organisations and insurers.
Each change in a client’s medical history requires a re-test. For vaccines that require a first and second dose, patch test after each inoculation. Since scientists suggest that one in three cases of the virus are asymptomatic, it is good practice to patch test all clients. Whether they know they have had the virus or not, make thorough consultation and patch testing a matter of course to substantially reduce the risk of negative response to your service.
It is advisable to ensure that the client is well enough to receive treatment and is not suffering any side effects of the vaccination before proceeding with the patch test or the service. NHS guidance for clients who have recently had a vaccination suggests they should not have treatments for at least a week.
However, it may be prudent to delay any service which has a therapeutic effect on the body systems, uses highly active product or induces inflammation (such as microneedling) for another week to ensure clients are fully recovered. Check with your trade organisation and manufacturer but the general industry guidance is to wait 10–14 days post-vaccination for these types of services.
Review your current procedures and don’t shy away from adjusting your consultation and patch-testing protocols to improve your practice standards if it is required. If you lack confidence in managing mild to moderate treatment contra-actions or reactions, get training.
These actions will protect the client, the therapist and the business as we adjust to the health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Candice Gardner is education manager – digital and content at skincare brand Dermalogica UK and Ireland. She is responsible for the development of the brand’s online and offline educational content, along with management of the extensive post-graduate curriculum in the region. Gardner has a specialist interest in connecting skin science and product technology with the practicalities of professional skincare.
With more than 25 years’ industry experience, she champions vocational skills training and actively engages with organisations across industry to raise and develop professional standards.