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of everyone affected by epilepsy

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 3 comments or add yours

Comments

I love aromatherapy massage, but most cannot get insurance to cover massaging someone with epilepsy without a doctors letter saying it's ok. Yet my GP's will not write a letter as "they do not know enough about my epilepsy, epilepsy in general & the effects massage has on it". I think this is appalling of GP's. I understand the therapist being cautious, even to a degree insurance companies. I say come on people, insurance companies & therapist get on board make us sign a waiver and GP's GO ON A BASIC KNOWLEDGE COURSE about epilepsy....

Submitted by Kiki on

Hi Kiki
Thank you for your comment. We understand how this can be very frustrating.

For your information, under the equality laws organisations must not place blanket restrictions on people because they have epilepsy. They must consider each person’s case individually. An example of a blanket restriction might be to say you need a doctor’s letter before you can have the treatment. Unless everyone who has treatment requires a letter from their doctor, it may be discrimination to only ask you. It can be an unnecessary inconvenience, not to mention expense, as doctors often charge to provide letters.

We explain this further on our cosmetic treatment webpage;

epilepsy.org.uk/info/cosmetic-beauty-treatments#declaring

Regards
Diane Wallace
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane, Epilepsy... on

I am a salon owner, and have worked in the industry for 30 years. We offer bother laser and electrolysis. Just thought it was helpful to put an actual therapist slant on this and share my experiences of this situation of which I have had issues with many times.
The problem that we face as a salon is that we as a business are bound by our insurers and laser manufacturers. If something goes wrong they throw the book at us. I have first hand experience of being taken to court in this situation. It cost us a fortune and our insurers have hammered us ever since!
The stress involved was horrendous and could easily have caused the business to close if we had fought further rather than us paying her out.
I totally understand how people with epilepsy feel and hate the idea of anyone feeling discriminated against. I would never choose to turn anyone away as this is not in our interest but it would be helpful if people understood how stuck we are! Our insurers have said that disclaimers/waivers are not worth the paper they are written on and do not stand up in court. We are basically 'damned if we do, damned if we don't!'
Hopefully this explains a little of our side of the story and the frustration we have as professional individuals just trying to do what is best for everyone involved.

Submitted by Angela on

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