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Cold and Flu Season … Staying Safe at the Spa


Sneezing, scratchy throat, runny nose, everyone knows the first miserable signs of the common cold or flu.  As the winter months approach, cold and flu season will soon be upon us.  Now is the time to start strengthening your immune system. Whether you work in a spa, or enjoy spending time there, there are some important things that you need to know in order to stay safe and healthy.  Does your spa practice good health practices, or are they jeopardizing your health and well being?  Do you know what to look for?  Spavelous has the answers to this and other questions in this week’s Spavelous “Now You Are In The Know

In an average year within the United States, over 40,000 people die from the flu.  Seasonal flu has been long blamed on such things as being indoors in cold weather, low immune system, humidity, temperature, and ultraviolet radiation. Last year, researchers directly tested the hypothesis that weather conditions, specifically low temperatures and relative humidity, spreads flu faster than at high temperatures and relative humidity.     

According to the study in the journal PLoS Pathogens, the researchers found that low (dry) relative humidity in the range of 20 to 30% produced the spread of the flu (influenza) virus faster than at relative humidity in higher percentages. In fact, at a humidity of 80% of above, their research found no spread of the flu.

With respect to temperatures, the researchers, who are based at the Mount Sinai Medical School of Medicine, found that the flu virus spread the fastest at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) and the slowest at 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). At 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), there was no transmission of the virus.

As a massage therapist in a Resort Spa environment, I was only too familiar with the cold and flu season.  Spa guests came from all over the world, and along the way they may have picked up germs from the airplane, people at the airport, eating in restaurants or in the restrooms they used.  I knew that I had to be especially diligent during this time of year, or I could easily be sick the entire season.    

There were two major challenges that spas face during the cold and flu season. 

The first is employees coming to work even when they do not feel well.  They may feel forced to work because they cannot find a replacement to work their shift.  They may decide to work because they do not want to disappoint the spa clients or, they may decide to work because they are on commission, have no benefits and need the money. 

The second are clients who come in for their service because the spa policy requires 24 hours notice if they were going to cancel an appointment and they do not want to pay for services that they did not have or they may come in for the service because they are unaware that they are ill and are only having mild symptoms.

Regardless of how this occurs, it leaves an unhealthy situation for all involved.  These sick individuals can contaminate everything and everyone that they come in contact with.  Including door handles, gym equipment, sink faucets, massage tables, face cradles and spread the germs through handshakes, hand massage, and sneezing.

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