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Statement on cosmetic treatment and beauty therapy

December 2011

Position

There is no evidence to suggest that everyone with epilepsy should be denied access to cosmetic treatments and beauty therapies. To deny people access to these services just because they have epilepsy is direct discrimination, and for this reason unlawful.

Background

People with epilepsy should enjoy the same access to beauty therapies as a person without epilepsy. Epilepsy is a disability recognised and subsequently covered by the Equality Act (England, Scotland and Wales) and the Disability Discrimination Act (Northern Ireland). These acts protect the rights of people with epilepsy from direct discrimination, indirect discrimination and discrimination arising from a disability.

People with epilepsy should inform the service provider (for example a beauty therapist) of their epilepsy, seizure type, seizure frequency and whether they experience an aura before they have a seizure.

The service provider should use their client’s information to decide on the most appropriate way to deliver a treatment or service. For most people with epilepsy, cosmetic treatments and beauty therapies are perfectly safe. However in some cases it will be necessary to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to enable a person to access a treatment safely. This is a requirement expressed in the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments

  • Specific aromatherapy oils might trigger seizures in people with epilepsy. In this case the service provider should avoid using those oils, and use an alternative oil.
  • A person would like to use a sun bed but states they have frequent myoclonic seizures in the morning only. While the sun bed won’t trigger a seizure, the service provider is worried that the person might be injured if they had a seizure while using the sun bed. The reasonable adjustment in this case might be for the person to use the sun bed in the afternoon.
  • A person states that they have frequent tonic-clonic seizures, but wants to have some hair removed using laser equipment. The service provider might be worried that should their client have a tonic-clonic seizure, the laser might burn or injure their skin. The reasonable adjustment in this case might be to agree to treat the client once their seizures are better controlled.

Examples of beauty therapies which are generally safe for people with epilepsy

This list provides examples of beauty therapies which are safe for people with epilepsy. It is not an exhaustive list.

  • Electrical body toning equipment.
  • Massage, including hot stone massage, head message (however be careful to avoid using oils known to trigger seizures).
  • Waxing.

This list provides examples of beauty therapies that are safe for most people with epilepsy. Each person and their epilepsy should be considered individually.

  • Electrolysis.
  • Laser hair removal, intense pulsed light hair removal, laser skin resurfacing. The beam of light used in laser treatments is very small. The beam of light doesn’t flicker, and therefore won’t trigger a seizure in a person with photo-sensitive epilepsy. However there might be a risk of skin injury should the client have a seizure while being treated.
  • Sun beds and tanning booths

Comments: read the 2 comments or add yours

Comments

I am a well controlled epileptic, my last seizure being in 1979. However today I took the risk and had the new CACI eye toning, non-invasive treatment. I felt quite odd during and after this treatment that tones the muscles around the eyes with electrical impulses. Is it advisable to stay away from such treatments in the future, particularly ones that are near my eyes and head? I don’t want to re-ignite my seizures again.
Many thanks
Anne

Submitted by Anne Devlin on

Hi Anne, it’s good to hear that you have got good seizure control. There is no evidence that treatments involving electricity can trigger seizures but people may have some individual reactions to some treatments. It may be worth checking the manufacturer’s information to see if they mention anything about epilepsy or describe what you might expect to feel during the treatment. Be guided by your instincts though – you may feel this treatment is not for you.

Regards

Mags

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on

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