Some common diseases that are frequently seen in the salon. These diseases are communicable, so skin care professionals must take precautions. The skin care professional is not a medical doctor and should never attempt to diagnose, treat, or give advice to clients about these diseases. However, aestheticians should be able to recognize these diseases so that they may refer the client to a doctor for treatment.

Further, aestheticians must not expose themselves or other clients to these diseases by performing services on clients who have infectious diseases, which can easily be transferred by contaminating hands or skin care implements.


Conjunctivitis is a bacterial infection of the conjunctiva of the eye; this condition is commonly known as pinkeye.

The eye or eyes appear red or pink and have a yellowish discharge that easily forms a crust.

Clients may comment that their eyelids are stuck together when they awake.

Conjunctivitis is extremely contagious and spreads by touching the eye and spreading the bacteria to skincare or makeup implements, either at home or in the salon or clinic.

Mascara wands, eye creams in which the client has dipped her finger, eye shadows, and eye-shadow brushes, and essentially anything the client has touched may be contaminated with bacteria.

Clients must discard any eye product or implement they have touched.

Aestheticians must never work on a client with conjunctivitis.

The client must be referred to a doctor and wait until the doctor approves further aesthetic treatment.

Normally, conjunctivitis is cured in only a few days by using antibiotic eye drops.

Should you accidentally treat a client with conjunctivitis, you must discard or sterilize any item that may have been touched or contaminated during the service.

Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex is a virus that causes outbreaks of blisters on and around the lips and mouth, commonly known as fever blisters or cold sores.

It can also cause outbreaks in other areas of the body, including the fingers, which is why wearing gloves is so important.

The herpes virus is not curable and remains dormant in a person’s body throughout their lifetime, becoming symptomatic under the right conditions.

Herpes can flare easily when the immune system of the body is suppressed; this can be caused by illness, stress, or sun exposure.

Many people experience severe flares with prolonged sun exposure.

Herpes simplex is managed with antiviral drugs such as acyclovir.

Aestheticians should never treat clients with open herpes blisters, because this is when the virus is most contagious.

Clients with herpes sometimes have a reddened area around the mouth or lips before developing a blister.

Carefully examine the skin before treatment, especially if the client has a history of herpes outbreaks.

Clients should be referred to a doctor for treatment.

Occasionally, herpes flares after a facial treatment, especially chemical exfoliation treatments, or a facial waxing.

Your health screening form should ask if the client has a history of cold sores or fever blisters.

If you have a client who has herpes, he or she should be referred to a doctor for pretreatment with acyclovir before using chemical exfoliation products in the salon.


Impetigo is a contagious bacterial infection of the skin.

This condition is often seen in children, but it can be spread to adults.

Impetigo first presents as red bullae that break, becoming crusty lesions that ooze or weep.

They often occur on the face but can occur anywhere on the skin.

Impetigo can be spread to an aesthetician through an opening in the cuticle skin of the fingers.

It should be noted here that 20 percent of impetigo lesions now contain MRSA.

Clients with impetigo must be referred to a doctor for antibiotic treatment.

They should not be treated in the salon until cleared by the physician.


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA; pronounced MUR-sah)

Is a type of staphylococcus (staph) bacterium that is antibiotic-resistant and potentially fatal.

Over time, these bacteria have developed resistance to many antibiotics commonly used to treat staph infections, and these antibiotics no longer work on these infections.

In the past, MRSA was an infection exclusive to hospitalized patients.

However, in the last few years, community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) has shown up outside the hospital environment.

CA-MRSA is now the biggest cause of skin infections in the United States and other parts of the world.

Skin-related CA-MRSA infections appear as large, boil-like eruptions that do not respond to normal treatments.

They may look like a pimple or spider bite in their early stages, but eventually, they develop into large abscesses.

Extremely strong antibiotics, along with incision and abscess drainage, must be used to treat these infections.

Often, the patient must have intravenous antibiotic therapy for several weeks to kill the bacteria and control the infection.

MRSA presents first as a small, slightly raised, and reddened area on the skin and is contagious then, even before becoming boil-like.

This is a problem for aestheticians since they may be exposed even though there are no obvious symptoms.

MRSA lesions can weep and be spread from person to person by touch, body contact, and even by contaminated linens.

Athletes who participate in contact sports such as wrestling can be more susceptible to MRSA infections.

All clients who have obvious skin infections should never be treated in the salon and should be referred to a doctor immediately.

MRSA is a very hearty bacterium that can live on surfaces for extended periods, and it enters the body through small tears and cuts in the skin.

For example, freshly shaven legs make a person susceptible to MRSA, if MRSA is present on a surface where the person sits.

This makes the need to disinfect all surfaces extremely important.

Following proper disinfection and aseptic procedures in the skin care salon or clinic is the best prevention technique for aestheticians to protect themselves and their clients.


Warts are the manifestation of a virus on the skin surface and are often recurrent and more widespread in HIV-positive persons.

They may occur in unusual places such as the beard area, mouth, and tongue.

Plantar warts on the feet or hands may also be present.

Plantar warts are the most common type of wart on the feet of all humans, regardless of HIV status.

The physician may find that these warts are resistant to normal treatment.

Venereal warts on the genitals, anus, and vagina are also often seen and are more prevalent in HIV-positive persons.

Molluscum contagiosum is often seen in normal children.

It often looks like a large group of warts and is frequently seen on the face.

This condition used to be frequently seen in patients with advanced HIV disease, but it is less prevalent now due to the use of drug cocktails.


Mycosis infections are fungal infections.

Many fungal infections can affect both the skin and the internal organs of the person with AIDS.

Skin infections from fungi may indicate internal fungal infections in persons with AIDS.

Fungal infections may show many different forms of symptomatic lesions.


Folliculitis is caused by an irritation of the hair follicle that develops into a bacterial infection.

The follicles appear inflamed, are in groups or patches, and often may appear as patches of very tiny pustules.

Persons with curly hair are more susceptible to folliculitis due to the tendency of curly hair to become ingrown and cause follicle irritation.

Severe seborrheic dermatitis

Severe seborrheic dermatitis may be seen in persons with HIV.

Many clients may have a small area of seborrheic dermatitis, but in persons with AIDS, the condition may be much worse.

Red, scaly patches are apparent in all areas of the face, especially the hairline and ears.

Severe seborrheic dermatitis may cause cracks in the skin and bleeding.

Oozing lesions may also be present.

The scalp can be severely affected as well.

Again, seborrheic dermatitis affects many healthy individuals, but in persons with AIDS, it is much more widespread, inflamed, and chronic.

Normal treatment may be ineffective.

More potent, topical steroids are often needed to control the disorder.

Psoriasis may develop or worsen in persons with AIDS.


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