Icky skin cooties.
March 19, 2008 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Are these blemishes a result of cooties on the vinyl cover of my physical therapist's massage-type table?

I recently have been visiting a physical therapist once or twice a week (back pain) and each visit starts with me lying face down on an adjustable massage-type table with my face resting in the cushioned ring at one end. The ring is vinyl covered, and there is a clean rolled-up washcloth that my forehead rests on - however, my cheeks rest on the vinyl.

Right around the same time I started going to PT I also developed some blemishes on the left side of my face. Coincidentally, they are right around the area of my face that rests directly on the vinyl, although only on the left. These blemishes are not like normal pimples. They are red, slightly raised, and were itchy at the start, kind of rashy. Now they are just red and kind of blotchy and ugly. They won't go away. Tea tree oil, which usually works for me on zits, just seemed to irritate them. When I wash my face (with Cetaphil only) the blemishes intensify and then calm down a bit after a while.

I have a dermatologist appointment in 3 weeks, but I'm just curious if it would be possible for me to catch some kind of disease from the vinyl. (I see pictures of the "impetigo" on Amy Winehouse's face and wonder if that's going to be me in 3 weeks.)
posted by missuswayne to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Could be an allergy to whatever they use to clean the table. I had similar itchy spots that we decided were allergies (but never could figure out what the allergen was).

Maybe ask them to cover it with sterile paper, or to wipe it down with rubbing alcohol before you lie down?
posted by mudpuppie at 12:24 PM on March 19, 2008

I think it is rare, but not unheard of, that vinyl can cause contact dermititis. Your dermatologist may give you patch tests.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:26 PM on March 19, 2008

Could be a simple allergy/contact dermatitis as mudpuppie suggests. Not to cause a panic, but I'd also be worried about MRSA.
posted by sbutler at 12:29 PM on March 19, 2008

It's possible to develop contact dermatitis from vinyl, which could occur even if the therapist is cleaning the face cradle between clients. If he isn't cleaning the cradle, well...eww.

FWIW, every massage therapist I've visited changes the covering for the face cradle before the next client is positioned. Haven't encountered one who expects me to put my face on the naked vinyl.
posted by jamaro at 12:49 PM on March 19, 2008

A paper towel with a little rip up the middle works to protect the face and still lets you breathe.
posted by kristymcj at 3:03 PM on March 19, 2008

Response by poster: I was hoping no one would mention MRSA. I don't think that's it though - there are no sores or anything.

I hadn't thought about contact dermatitis, which is weird because I've had that plenty of times, just not on my face. I put some hydrocortisone 1% on it, we'll see what happens...

And yeah, now that you mention it, jamaro, it is icky that my face is touching an unprotected face cradle, clean or not. Bleh.
posted by missuswayne at 4:33 PM on March 19, 2008

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