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Why Massage Therapists Avoid Using Medicated Lotions Provided by Clients



Medicated Lotion vs. Massage Lotion

Massage therapy is a holistic practice focused on promoting relaxation, relieving muscle tension, and enhancing overall well-being. A key aspect of this practice is the use of lotions and oils to facilitate smooth, effective massage strokes. However, professional massage therapists often avoid using medicated lotions provided by clients. This decision is grounded in several critical reasons related to safety, efficacy, and professional standards.


1. Allergic Reactions and Skin Sensitivities

One of the primary concerns for massage therapists is the potential for allergic reactions or skin sensitivities. Medicated lotions often contain active ingredients that can cause adverse reactions in some individuals. Even if a client has used the lotion without issues in the past, the prolonged and extensive skin contact during a massage could lead to unexpected reactions. Massage therapists prioritize the safety of their clients and themselves, and using unfamiliar products introduces unnecessary risks.

2. Interaction with Therapeutic Techniques

Massage therapists are trained to use specific products that complement their techniques and the goals of the therapy session. Medicated lotions can have properties that might interfere with the massage process. For example, certain ingredients may cause the lotion to absorb too quickly, reducing the glide necessary for effective massage strokes. Conversely, some medicated lotions might be too greasy or sticky, making it difficult for the therapist to maintain control and apply the right amount of pressure. Most lotions that are not designed to tolerate friction or heat from massage techniques can break down during application and can cause skin irritation and rashes.

3. Consistency and Quality Control

Professional massage therapists often rely on high-quality, tested products that are specifically formulated for massage therapy. These products have consistent textures, scents, and absorption rates, allowing therapists to deliver a predictable and high-quality experience. Medicated lotions provided by clients may vary significantly in these aspects, potentially compromising the effectiveness and enjoyment of the massage.

4. Licensing and Professional Liability

Massage therapists operate under strict professional guidelines and licensing requirements often called a Scope of Practice. Using unapproved products can put their professional credentials at risk. Additionally, if a client experiences an adverse reaction to a product supplied by themselves, it can lead to complex liability issues. To avoid potential legal complications, therapists prefer to stick with products they know and trust.

5. Personal and Ethical Standards

Many massage therapists adhere to personal and ethical standards regarding the products they use. They often choose lotions and oils that are hypoallergenic, and free from harmful chemicals. As with any license massage therapists have what is called a Scope of Practice which defines what they are allowed to do as a professional. While massage therapists are categorized as health care we can not apply, dispense, or prescribe medications. This means that applying medicated lotions would be outside of the scope of practice. In some states this extends to CBD products as well.

6. Dosage

In addition to being outside of our scope of practice a concern related to application is dosage. When applying a lotion that has active ingredients the dose depends on the amount applied. While it sounds nice to get pain relief from a medicated cream being massaged onto the skin, the dose may be too high if applied over a large area and over an extended period of time. This also means the therapist is absorbing the medication through their skin as they work. This can be concerning as the therapist may have a reaction to the medicated lotion or can be overexposed and overdosed. If they used different lotions throughout the day they may be repeatedly dosed or mixing different active ingredients and medications throughout the day.

7. Sanitary Concerns

Using products brought in by clients can raise sanitary concerns. The therapist cannot be sure of how the product has been stored or whether it has been contaminated. This uncertainty is particularly significant in a setting where hygiene is paramount.


While clients may have good intentions when bringing their own medicated lotions to a massage session, it is generally in everyone’s best interest to use the products provided by the therapist. These products are chosen for their compatibility with professional techniques, safety, and efficacy. By adhering to this practice, massage therapists can ensure a safe, effective, and enjoyable experience for their clients.


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