How to Give a Massage and Avoid Cross Contamination with Cream

Can we talk about double dipping?

When I say “double dipping”, probably what comes to mind is potato chips and carrots sticks. Or maybe the famous Seinfeld episode where George commits the faux pas of double dipping at a party. What most people would not think about is how to give a massage properly!

In the massage world we have our own kind of double dipping and it’s just as disgusting!

Also, like the more familiar double dipping mentioned above, the person who commits the foul is often totally unpredictable and equally as oblivious to their sin.

So what constitutes double dipping in the massage world? I’m referring to what can happen when a massage therapist is using a sizable container /can/ jar/ tub of cream (or some other preferred goop) as their primary, sole dispenser. What’s the problem?

It’s the same double dipping concept. If a therapist is dipping into a large container full of goop, then rubbing it on a client’s body, then going back to the same container to scoop out a little bit more, and back to a body, this is double dipping!

Why does it matter and why is it gross?

Think about it: whatever dirt, germs or other nasty stuff might be on any given client’s body is getting onto the therapist’s hands. Those hands are then going back into the container each time the therapist reaches for more. The very moment that happens, we have what is called cross contamination. 

Before you know it you’ve got quite a little bacteria stew going on in that container. Imagine how that can build over time as more and more clients are contributing to the contamination with each double dip. And then imagine that getting rubbed into your own skin! Gross!

As I mentioned earlier, The offending therapist who does this will often surprise you. I have seen therapists with 20 years of experience do this very thing. I have also seen it happen a lot in some of the Asian foot massage type of places.

Unfortunately it’s one of those things where once you become aware of it, it’s impossible not to notice or be a little grossed out by it when you see it happening.

I actually used to enjoy seeing this strong Asian man who would give me a great foot massage at a little acupressure place, but he had this fancy mentholated ointment he would use on the feet.

Unfortunately it was in one of those large communal cauldrons of microbes and eventually I decided I did not want all of those germs on my feet. Instead I brought my own little container for him to use. He didn’t really get it but we made it work.

It’s very easy to work around the issue and maintain hygienic conditions.

Therapists have three great options.

  1. Dole out a small amount for each session in its own individual container (anything left over will need to be disposed of) and double dip to your heart’s content!
  2. Use some type of spoon or dispenser to scoop out whatever is needed bit by bit, and place it in another spot for direct use. I’ve seen some therapists when working with a thicker type of cream that won’t drip or slide, simply place a dollop at a time on their arm where they can then access it with their other hand very easily until it runs out. Then just spoon out a little more.
  3. Use a pump!

So the next time you see a therapist committing this unsanitary error, think about pointing it out to them. There’s really no logical argument against it so luckily most people, once you explain to them what they are doing, get it pretty quickly and hopefully take it upon themselves to correct it going forward.

Together we can end of the scourge of double dipping massage therapists!! Please share this article – if it makes just one therapist re-think what they are doing you will have done a good deed for the massage profession!