Be a bright spot in the lives of clients undergoing cancer treatments with these tips on how to care for these customers, body and soul.
Client Information Questionnaire
You should already have a questionnaire for all new clients, as it’s a great way to find out what each specific client is expecting from her services, what problems and preferences she has for her nails, and even what her birthday is (in case you want to send her a card or offer a discount). Make sure to add these questions from the International Pedicure Association (IPA) client questionnaire so you get a heads-up on clients with cancer and other relevant conditions:
> Do you have any current medical or health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, skin conditions, infections, or contagious disease, or are you undergoing kidney dialysis?
> Do you have any known problems or conditions with your feet or legs? If yes, please provide details including the site of the problem or condition.
> Have you suffered from any recent injuries or illnesses? If yes, please give details.
> Are you taking any medications, whether prescribed by a doctor or over the counter? If yes, please provide details.
> Do you have any allergies to medications or products? If yes, please provide details.
Offer This, Not That
|Offer natural nail care only. Don’t cut cuticles as they are a line of defense against infection. Filing nails is preferable to cutting. If there are any nail abnormalities, you may even want to skip polish application.
||Don’t offer nail enhancements, whether they be acrylics, gels, or another medium. You don’t want something semi-permanent covering up the nails, plus the client’s nails may not be in good condition for the removal process.
|Offer waterless services. “One of the most common side effects I’ve had to deal with is weak, dry, brittle nails. I offer waterless manicures and pedicures because soaking can cause more dehydration and dryness to skin that’s already fragile,” Malone says.
||Most of our expert sources we spoke with recommended waterless services; however, the IPA’s executive director Suzanne Foote says that “many products used in place of soaking are very harsh on the skin.” Foote recommends soaking the feet — not in a salt-based foot soak — for no longer than five minutes. Pat the feet dry after soaking.
|Autoclave implements. Regarding Fredriksen’s Oncology Manicuring 101 class, she says, “Although we will train you in oncology manicuring once your prerequisites are met, we will not do so without an agreement that an autoclave sterilizer be implemented. Only then can a spa or salon participate in our hospital to spa program and be promoted.” Tools that can’t be put in an autoclave should be thrown away.
||Don’t cut corners with sanitation, disinfection, and sterilization. Clients with cancer are more susceptible to infection than other clients, and the consequences of an infection can be disastrous.
|Practice other aseptic protocols to protect the client. This means wearing gloves and cleaning surfaces throughout the day, including doorknobs and product bottles. You may want to opt for jet-free basins to ensure every inch is perfectly clean.
||Don’t eat at your workstation, thereby potentially contaminating it. Go above and beyond state board mandated standards to create a safe environment for clients with cancer.
|Mild products are best. The client’s doctor may have recommendations. New product lines are also evolving for clients with cancer that you can investigate. You may also want to carry product lines that donate a portion of their proceeds to fighting cancer.
||Avoid products with strong smells, which can cause nausea in clients with cancer. Avoid harsh exfoliants. There is much controversy over which product ingredients have been linked to cancer; do research to decide what products you are comfortable with.
|Create a scent-free environment. “I use candle warmers and meltables. I find the aroma to be less overwhelming,” Malone says.
||You may want to pass on those morning squirts of perfume around clients with cancer and other chronic conditions.
|Offer reflexology, lymphatic massage, and feather massage techniques, if you are trained in the use of these techniques.
||Don’t massage a client with cancer without the OK from the client’s physician. It can aggravate the side effects of cancer treatment.
|Retail products used in the service for at-home care. Clients with cancer may be struggling with dry skin and nails, so a good cuticle oil and a well-researched moisturizer can help them out at home.
||Don’t let clients with cancer purchase products for their personal at-home use that have harsh ingredients or that you haven’t researched well.
Next page: 5 common conditions and how to handle them