Beauty treatments can hide a mine field of potentially damaging problems to the unsuspecting client, and at the end of the day it’s the Beauty Therapist’s responsibility to protect the client by ensuring the treatment booked is suitable.

We use record cards in salon treatments for several reasons such as keeping clients’ address and phone details and record of past treatments. The most important reason for these record cards is the attachment of a medical questionnaire that they have filled in prior to any treatments commencing, no matter how small those treatments are.

This questionnaire should be re-visited whenever a client books a different treatment.

Here is a brief overview of some of the more common contraindications to treatments that you may come across on a weekly basis in a busy salon or spa.

This list could be in a book form as there are so many variations depending on products used or the client’s individual needs.

A contra indication is something that you can see or that the client tells you about during consultation that prevents the client from being able to have the treatment. Treating a client with a contra indication could put your client at risk and will make your insurance invalid.

If you notice something on the client that Contra Indicates the treatment that the client has not mentioned during consultation, then you must cease treating them and explain why. However, it is important as beauty therapists that we do not make a diagnosis but instead ask the client to seek professional Care to rule it out as a contra indication before rebooking them back in.

A pedicure will be contra indicated if your client has any of the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Verruca’s
  • Athletes Foot
  • Impetigo
  • Warts
  • Ringworm
  • Inflammation, Swelling or Pus
  • Rashes

Due to poor healing quality of the skin, Diabetes is often a contra indication for pedicures as there is a risk of cutting or nipping the skin.


A verruca or plantar wart is a highly contagious and sore lump often found on the soles of the feet. Verruca’s are just warts however they represent themselves as flat as they are often trodden in. Treating a client with a verruca would cross contaminate your equipment, foot spa or towels and should be asked to seek treatment with a Doctor before returning for a Pedicure.

Athletes Foot

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection on the skin of the feet. Athlete’s foot can affect anyone and is not just those who play sports or wear trainers. Symptoms of athlete’s foot include dry skin, itching, burning, and redness. The symptoms are often present in the skin between the toes, where the infection usually starts. Blistering, peeling, cracking of the skin, and bleeding may occur. Sometimes the affected skin can appear white and wet on the surface. It is contagious and can be easily passed from client to client.


Impetigo is an acute contagious skin rash that is caused by staphylococcus aureus and by the group A streptococcus bacteria. It can affect any adult but more commonly occurs amongst infants and children. This type of skin infection usually starts as red itchy sores that can soon turn into oozing blisters. Impetigo may develop around the legs, arms, trunk, buttocks and face. Whilst not usually common on the feet, treating clients with Impetigo still puts your other clients at risk of cross contamination.


A wart is a small, rough, lump that grows on the top layer of skin. Warts often resemble a solid blister or a cauliflower and can be either very light or very dark in comparison to the normal skin colour. Warts are usually painless, but can sometimes cause itching and burning. Warts are caused by a viral infection called the human papillomavirus virus or HPV. The HPV is contagious and can be passed from person to person by either direct or indirect contact.


Ringworm is a term that is used to refer to skin infections that are caused by fungi called dermatophytes.  This condition is known as ringworm because it can leave a ring-like, red rash on the skin and it does not have anything to do with worms. Ringworm is contagious and it can be passed between people through skin contact and by sharing objects such as towels. Ringworm on the feet is commonly referred to as Athletes foot.

Inflammation, Swelling or Pus

If you notice any swelling on the area you are going to treat or an area of inflammation, then you must refer your client on to their GP. Clients that know why they have swelling for example if they sprained their ankle earlier that day should still be refused treatment until the area has healed.


Any area of skin that looks irritated or sore should not be treated. Ask the client to return when the rash has cleared up.


Diseased nails should never be treated by the manicurist and all manicurists should know what normal conditions or abnormal nail conditions are along with the cause, signs, and treatments. A client with nail disease should be referred to a doctor.

Nail Disease Indications:

  • Redness of the nails and hands
  • Soreness or tenderness
  • Presence of puss
  • Inflammation or discoloration of
  • the nail or skin


  • This will look like small dents on the nail surface.
  • Eczema and arthritic diseases can cause this.
  • This can be treated by a doctor.


  • Can also be known as whitlow
  • This is when bacteria penetrate the nail fold and then
  • The nail becomes sore and can form puss.
  • In bad cases the nail can turn black in colour.


  • Can occur when the skin around the nail
  • Becomes damaged and is usually caused by nail biting or biting of the cuticle area.
  • Bacteria or yeast invades and sometimes the
  • Cuticle disappears altogether.
  • Constantly wet hands can contribute to this condition.
  • Advise client to keep the area clean, wear protective gloves and visit their GP.


  • This is the result of lymphatic disorder.
  • The nail becomes shrunken around the edge and turns inwards. It grows more slowly and thickens
  • It also becomes yellow and black at the edges and swelling is apparent around the cuticle.


  • This is the name given to a general nail infection.
  • It is caused by a bacterial invasion usually around the matrix and cuticle area, characterised by inflammation and accompanied by puss formation.
  • A common cause may be improper sanitation of implements.


  • An extremely contagious fungal infection.
  • Although there are different types of this, the symptoms are similar.
  • The nail may be yellow or white and dull or opaque and may separate from the nail bed.
  • The client must be advised to visit the GP without delay.

Ringworm of the Hands or Skin

This is a highly contagious disease and is caused by a parasitic fungus.

The principle characteristics are red lesions, which take the form of rings or patches.

Itching ranges from slight to severe.

It is important that you do not touch the hands or skin of anyone suffering from this condition.

Recommend that the clients visit their GP.


Blue Nails

This can attribute to poor circulations or a heart disorder.

Paraffin wax treatments are recommended.

Bitten Nails

This is a nervous habit, which prompts the individual to chew the nail or the hardened nail wall.  This may cause deformed nails.

It can be corrected by regular manicure and keeping the cuticle well oiled.

If the nails look good there is less likelihood of chewing.

Brittle Nails

This may be caused due to injury to the finger, carless filing of the free edge, excessive use of solvents like cuticle remover (potassium hydroxide) or polish remover (acetone).

It may even be due to a form of glandular disorder.

Black Nail (Subungual Haematoma)

Black nail is usually a bruise under the nail.

The bruising will disappear in time.

If it is severe the nail may fall off, but it will grow back if the matrix is undamaged.

If the pain is tense a doctor can pierce the nail to relieve the pressure.

If a black spot appears with no memory of injury a doctor should be consulted as it may be a sign of something more serious.

Flaking or Breaking Nails

This may be due to incorrect filing, ill health or use of harsh detergents or nail solvents, a lack of vitamin A and/or B2.  Vitamin A can be found in

diary produce, salad, green vegetables, and fruits.

Vitamin B can be found in Marmite, Bovril, wheat germ and cereals.

Hang Nails

This is a condition in which the cuticle splits around the nail due to dryness and hardening of the cuticle wall.

It can be the result of cutting the cuticle repeatedly.  Soften with warm oil and loosen the cuticle from the nail plate.

Carefully clip away any fraying pieces of skin with cuticle clippers.  Under no circumstances should you use scissors to do this.

Horizontal Ridges (Beau’s Lines)

Is caused by interruptions in the nail growth and is usually because of illness or severe shock.

They will grow out in time.


This is the periodic shedding of one or more of the nails either in part or whole.

It occurs when the nail plate becomes separated from the nail bed.

Onycholysis can be caused by local skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and onychomycosis and may follow certain diseases such as syphilis, anemia and hyperthyroidism.

Slight Bacterial Infection


This infection is also known as Pseudomonas.

This condition appears green or brown in colour and it is often caused by moisture trapped beneath lifting nail extensions.

To treat, remove all loose products to expose the discoloration. Then use an anti-fungus agent to dry up the moisture and to kill bacteria, followed by an antiseptic to treat the area. Allow to dry, then lightly buff with an old buffer.  Remember to discard the buffer after use. Periodically check the status of the nail until the condition has remedied.

Splinter Haemorrhaging

This is caused by a knock to the nail.  Blood is trapped between the nail bed and the nail plate.


Vertical splitting of nails from the tip down may occur if the nails are thin and brittle and have vertical ridges already.

Old age and wet hands contribute to this.

Good manicuring techniques will go a long way towards treating this condition.

Nail hardeners should only be used for a maximum of two weeks otherwise it will make matters worse.

Nourishing treatments will encourage healthy nail growth, as will mineral and vitamin supplement and avoiding placing the hands in water.

Vertical Ridges

Usually just a sign of getting older, possibly made worse by rheumatism.

Gentle filing and buffing will reduce pronounced ridges as will the use of ridge filler.

Other Contraindications

Cuts and abrasions – ones which cannot be covered or avoided.

Arthritis – rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition, so it is best to avoid massage, paraffin wax, or any other heat treatments on these clients. Those with osteoarthritis may benefit from light massage.

Diabetes – clients may have reduced skin sensitivity caused by peripheral neuropathy (nerve numbness).