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Healthy Cells is a local health magazine with most of the articles written by local professionals. People love to read about healthcare from their local health professionals. Each month includes a wide variety of articles on various topics.
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A Window Into Your Health

Your skin and nails can reveal a lot about your health and will often give clues as to what is going on inside your body. In fact, skin or nail problems are often one of the first warning signs of an underlying medical condition — one that might possibly be serious.



Many people will choose to ignore a symptom that doesn’t seem that serious, or they may just chalk it up to getting older. After all, a discolored fingernail, puffy skin, or an itchy mole hardly seems like a reason to run to the doctor. It is for this reason that Vicki Tilton, one of the owners of Fox & Hounds Salon and Day Spa in Bloomington, explains that estheticians, nail techs, stylists, and massage therapists go through specific training during their education so that they can be aware of and recognize something that the client should have checked out by a medical professional.


If a massage therapist encounters a large mass where no mass should be during the palpation of the skin, it needs further evaluation by a medical professional. It could be the growth of a bony deposit in the soft tissues, which can inhibit range of motion and lead to other potential problems. A massage therapist may also notice slight puffiness of a client’s skin that may indicate edema, which is the accumulation of fluid between cells and is often associated with inflammation or poor circulation.


This can be an early indication of heart problems or may be due to a musculoskeletal injury. A massage therapist may also notice a mole or skin condition on the back that you likely can’t even see.


Licensed esthetician Lynsey Riddle, who performs many different skin care treatments at Fox and Hounds, is always on the lookout for anything that could indicate skin cancer, especially a change in a mole. Even though most moles are harmless, they can develop into melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Melanoma is one of the few cancers that are common in women under 30. “I see clients on a regular basis, and I might notice a change that they aren’t aware of. If I notice a questionable spot, I ask them to apply the ABCDE scale:

A — Asymmetry
B — Border
C — Color
D — Diameter
E — Elevation

If any of these seem abnormal, I strongly encourage them to see a doctor.” She may also recognize conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, severe acne, or rosacea that are beyond the scope of an esthetician’s services and products. In these cases, she will always recommend that they see a dermatologist for treatment.


Casey Pirtle, a licensed nail technician and one of the owners of Fox & Hounds, says she has seen guests from all different walks of life. “I’ve had business professionals that wear heels regularly to farmers that live in work boots. These different lifestyles present unique challenges and goals in foot care.”


When previously healthy nails undergo changes in color, shape, texture, flexibility, or when the skin around the nail changes, this can be a warning sign of something relatively simple like a fungal condition, vitamin deficiency, or stress — or something more serious such as heart, lung, or liver disease; thyroid problems; anemia; high blood pressure; lymphatic problems; diabetes; arthritis; or lupus. While nail changes that are due to a more serious condition would likely be accompanied by other symptoms as well, it sometimes takes an outside person to suggest the connection.


Hairstylists, nail technicians, estheticians, and massage therapists are in a unique position to help catch health problems in the earliest stages. People will often reveal more about their health to a day spa professional than to a medical professional because they see them on a regular basis, usually for an hour or more, and it is a relaxing and comfortable environment. While day spa professionals do not attempt to diagnose a condition, they can often spot subtle changes and suggest that it be checked out by a doctor. Vicki says, “We get to know our clients. We know about their kids, their jobs, their pets… and they’ll often talk about health concerns as well. Sometimes a simple word of validation from us is the gentle push they need to get something checked out by a doctor.”

For more information, you may contact Vicki Tilton, Fox & Hounds Hair Studio & Day Spa, 309-829-0482, Fox-N-Hounds.com.




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