What to do if a client has an embarrassing skin issue
Most important is to make sure that you don’t look visibly shocked or panicked – this will make clients feel self-conscious and may even prevent them from returning to the salon. Try and stay calm and maintain an unflappable composure. Be understanding and empathetic.
It is important to inform your clients if you do see a skin or scalp issue so that they can get help from their doctor promptly, but it must be done sensitively. Have the conversation in a private setting, as you don’t know how the client will react and they may not even be aware of the problem.
Keep it factual and state exactly what you see on their skin or scalp but don’t try to make a diagnosis. Although you may well be right, it’s best to advise them to see their doctor.
Examples of ways to open up the conversation include: “Are you aware that you have quite a bit of scaling and redness on your scalp? It looks really sore/uncomfortable. Have you had that looked at by your doctor?” or, “While I was massaging your hair I noticed you have lots of white structures attached to the strands.
It could be dandruff or infections or infestations of the hair can look similar. It would be best to see your doctor and get it checked out”. Reassure clients that you see these conditions regularly and that they can be easily treated, but suggest that they get the diagnosis confirmed by their doctor first, who can then start treatment accordingly.
Dr Sharon Wong is a GMC-registered consultant dermatologist based in London who regularly advises the media.