WEBMD WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT THE RISKS OF SPA TREATMENTS

WebMD's recent article warns consumers about the risks of spa treatments. The report cites: 'while most of today's spas promise to restore, refresh, and renew...certain spa treatments can worsen chronic and acute health conditions. All spas can pose risks to the general public, particularly when operated in a state of uncleanliness.'

WebMD talked to medical experts and public health officials to learn about spa health risks and teach consumers how you can avoid them.

Among the warnings:

Diabetes and Pedicures: People with diabetes need to take extra precautions when getting foot treatments. "Any break in the skin, potentially from aggressive trimming of a callous or cuticle, can increase the risk of foot infections called cellulitis," says Sharon Horesh, MD, an internal medicine doctor with Emory University's department of medicine.

Massage and Pregnancy: "In the second and third trimesters, women should specifically seek a pregnancy massage therapist and avoid massage techniques that involve long strokes along the legs or pressure between the ankle and heels," Horesh tells WebMD. "There's always a chance that it might make the baby dislodge, or induce premature labor," explains Clayton.


Public Health Risks: WebMD cites a report released by the CDC in 2004 that showed that more than half of all public hot tub spas in the U.S. violate public health safety standards. Of the 5,000 spas inspected, 57% breached at least one safety violation. Poor water quality was the most common violation.

WebMD's advice to consumers to reduce the risk of infection at spas:

Do some detective work of your own before taking the plunge. "Look around at the spa for general cleanliness. Talk to people who have been there," McNutt suggests. She also recommends bringing your own equipment to avoid the threat of contamination. And, if you have any open cuts or abrasions, cancel your appointment until they clear. Any open area of your skin can invite infection. That's why it's never wise to shave your legs the day of, or even the day before, a spa treatment that involves immersing your legs, McNutt tells WebMD.