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In this Post: As we resume practicing in the midst of the Corona Pandemic, we need to consider PPE for Massage Therapists!
Personal Protective Equipment or PPE has never been more important in the massage industry than now. While PPE is something you might have heard talked about actively on a construction site a year ago, it wasn’t something you chatted about around the “water cooler” at the spa. But it is now!
As massage practices begin to reopen, we NEED to make sure that we are taking active roles to help minimize the spread of the Coronavirus. Enter PPE.
PPE gear for massage therapists will be varied based on state requirements and personal preferences. From gowns to aprons, to googles to gloves, you will find that different sources recommend different things. Here I will share what has worked well for me.
The PPE for Massage Therapists I Recommend for Returning Work Include:
I have been using KN95 masks, mainly because I can get my hands on them more easily than N95 masks. I also like that the KN95 masks secure behind the ear as opposed to around the head. For me, this is more comfortable! The primary difference between KN95 and N95 masks is where they are certified. While N95 masks are certified in the United States, KN95 are certified in China.
Whether you choose KN95, N95, fabric, or paper masks, you will want to consider a few factors.
1) Make sure that whatever mask you use does not have an exhaust system. These types of front vents are designed for one way protection against dust and particles. They won’t keep your clients safe.
2) Wear a fresh mask for each client. When you are done with your mask, fold it in half and dispose of it or put it in your soiled linen pile. Do not touch the exterior of your mask once you start working.
3) Comfort. What type of mask is the most comfortable and requires the least tweaking on your part? The mask that you mess with the least is the best!
4) To you have a tight seal? Adjust the nose and surrounding material for the tightest seal possible.
The virus can be transmitted if it comes into contact with our eyes, so some type of eye protection is critical! I like the face shield because it also prevents me from touching my face—one more layer of protection. Recently, I have seen a lot of therapists choosing to forgo the masks and just use a face shield. I find this unwise, but opinions vary on this, so you will need to do the research and figure out what makes the most sense to you!
Between every client, I have been changing my shirt. Some therapists are wearing aprons or gowns, but I have found that button-down scrubs work the best for me. They launder easily, are comfortable, and, most importantly, I don’t have to take them up over my head, potentially exposing myself to the virus.
You may notice I didn’t include gloves. My opinion is that they are unnecessary if you are studiously washing your hands.
Donning and Doffing
Not only must we make sure to obtain these supplies for our reopenings, we also must make sure that we know how to don and doff our gear properly. Donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) are the technical terms for using PPE gear.
Order for Donning:
- Wash Hands
- Face Shield
Order for Doffing:
- Wash Hands
- Face Shield
- Wash Hands Again
Notice all the hand washing. As massage therapists, we often pride ourselves on our hand washing skills, but even we need to be more vigilant these days!
Once we have our gear correctly in place, it is essential that we not adjust things with our hands. If we must adjust, wash hands first, then adjust, then wash again. Sensing a theme?
A Nurses Take
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with a nurse friend of mine. She works in the nursing home in my community. It was encouraging to hear her take on PPE, given her close proximity to many affected by the Coronavirus.
Multiple times a day, she is in very close proximity to those with COVID, yet in all of her required weekly tests, she has never once tested positive for the virus. She attributes this to the fact that she has been extremely attentive in her PPE use. Making sure that she is donning and doffing properly and always wearing her gear. She also never wears her shoes inside her home and showers as soon as she returns home from work.
It was comforting to me to know that she has remained healthy throughout all of this!
Even so, know that just because you have used all the right gear and used it appropriately, that this DOES NOT mean you will walk away unscathed. There are risks involved with going back to work! Yet, these risks can significantly be reduced if we are smart with our practices.
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
- Certified Herbal Therapist through Nutrition Therapy Institute
- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008