Contagious or Infectious Conditions

The feet may have some conditions that a reflexologist should not work on. Athlete's foot is one such condition. Athlete's foot affects athletes and many others who do not participate in sports. The transmission of this fungal infection, tinea pedis, may be from walking barefoot, using someone else's shoes, or from shared towels and bath mats. Whatever the cause, reflexologists do not work on an active case of athlete's foot.

Prevention is the best remedy for this condition. Basic health care, such as drying feet, especially in between the toes after bathing, is crucial as well as keeping the feet as dry as possible. Wearing white cotton athletic socks helps to prevent the warm environment needed for the growth of this fungus.


Choose shoes that can breathe, such as leather or canvas, to keep the foot well ventilated. Using a swim sneaker or flip-flop sandal at the pool or bathhouse will also help prevent transmission. To prevent an outbreak at home, change bath mats frequently.

Nail Fungus

Nail fungus generally grows in the same environment as athlete's foot. The nail may become thick and raised. A discoloration may appear with some nail fungus. Sometimes the nail is painful. You can work on these nails, though it is good practice to keep disposable gloves in your work area. Use gloves for the first part of the session if the nails are really affected. If the nails are not terribly affected, thumb walk the toe area and then wash your hands before continuing the session. If gloves were used, remove the gloves before continuing.


Always make a referral to a medical professional; do not diagnose the condition. Establishing a relationship with a local podiatrist is good practice, for those people who do not have a podiatric doctor of their own. Nail fungus has a variety of treatments, which will be decided by the medical doctor.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts may look like a callus, but they are infectious viral conditions of the skin. The center of the wart will have tiny black or red dots, and when squeezed from the side is painful. If pushing from the top causes the pain, it is probably a callus or corn. Again, it is not your job to diagnose; leave that to the medical people. A plantar wart is a virus; therefore, you should cover this spot before working on the feet. Small round Band-Aids work well as covers, then you can thumb walk over the area.

Prevention is the best plan of action. Walking barefoot in public areas leaves the foot susceptible to the virus. The wart virus can live in any warm area: your shoes, the gym, the locker room, the swimming pool, or the bath and shower mat. Take care to prevent infection. Once a wart begins to grow on the plantar surface, it can burrow in deeply.

Poison Oak, Ivy, and Sumac

Exposure to these plants can cause an allergic contact dermatitis, which may produce itchy, fluid-filled blisters on the body. If a receiver has such blisters on the feet, ankles, or legs, do not work on the area! Explain to the receiver that until the reaction has run its course, the lesions could continue to spread. Recommend he check with his physician before returning for a reflexology session.

Soft-Tissue Infections

Whenever you have a question relating to your visual assessment of the receiver's feet, it is best to make a referral to a podiatrist. If you find bumps, blisters, scratches, cuts, sores, raw lesions, or any other irregularities that you are not sure of, you need a doctor's okay to work on those areas. Never perform reflexology if you have no knowledge of what is on the person's foot. You do not want to spread infection further, nor do you want exposure through contact.

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