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If you frequent a nail or salon spa, you are probably no stranger to paraffin wax baths. In general, a paraffin wax bath is a treatment that includes paraffin wax—a colorless, odorless wax derived from petroleum. The wax is often combined with essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, or aloe vera to boost its therapeutic benefit and give it a relaxing aroma. Whether you are enjoying the treatment with an at-home paraffin wax bath machine or by a professional esthetician at the salon or spa, your desired area of treatment (hands, elbows, or feet) are dipped into melted paraffin wax, and then, encased in a plastic bag and wrapped in a heated towel. Once the wax cools down and solidifies, the wax is peeled off and your treated area is cleaned and moisturized. Paraffin wax therapy sessions normally run for 30 minutes and cost $15 or higher depending on your choice of salon or spa.
Skin benefits aside, paraffin wax baths are highly recommended for individuals with arthritis, muscle aches, or day-to-day sores, thanks to its ability in reducing swelling and improving blood circulation.
Though paraffin wax baths make for an excellent technique to enhance skin moisture levels and alleviate joint stiffness, they are not without drawbacks and are unfortunately not suitable for everyone. Here are some potential side effects of a paraffin wax bath you should be aware of.
Side Effects of a Paraffin Wax Bath
A. Heat Rash
Paraffin melts at a lower than normal temperature, which means that the skin can be submerged in the wax without causing burning or blistering. Having said that, say you have sensitive skin, chances of you experiencing a heat rash from a paraffin wax bath is high. Also called prickly heat, this rash often appears like tiny red bumps on the face, neck, and upper torso, and can be very itchy and uncomfortable to some.
B. Poor Blood Circulation
Paraffin wax baths are not recommended for individuals with hypertension, diabetes, or varicose veins. If you are diabetic, undergoing wax therapy can lead to abnormal sensations, numbness, and hindered blood circulation.
C. Skin Irritation
Because paraffin is derived from petroleum products, individuals with chemical sensitivities may develop minor swelling or breakouts from the wax treatment. Steer clear of this treatment if you have any open wounds or cuts.
D. Highly Inflammable
Keep in mind that paraffin wax is highly inflammable and can cause severe inflammation when inhaled over time. When you are performing a paraffin wax treatment at home, avoid heating the wax over an open flame to mitigate fire risks and the release of toxins. This should not be a concern if you opt for an at-home paraffin wax bath machine that comes complete with all the safety bells and whistles you need. In that case, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions or check out our guide on how to use a paraffin wax bath.
Is Paraffin Wax Bath Safe?
Paraffin wax bath is considered safe for the majority of users, although you should be extra cautious with home kits and not to overheat the wax. You should also stay away from wax bath therapy if you have cuts, open sores, or inflammatory skin conditions.
What are the Contraindications of a Paraffin Wax Bath?
- Open wounds
- Allergic rashes
- Skin growths, moles
- Chronic skin conditions
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Impaired sensations/numbness
- Acute dermatitis
All in all, paraffin wax is mostly non-toxic, although some additives, synthetic chemicals, and colors in its properties can be hazardous. On top of that, the substance may pose negative side effects if it interacts with other prescription or over-the-counter medications. Therefore, if you have a chronic skin condition and/or are on medication, consult a healthcare provider before trying out a paraffin wax bath (or any treatment for that matter) whether at a salon or at home.
1. Who should avoid paraffin wax treatment?
Individuals with a chemical sensitivity may experience rash, swelling, or breakouts should they use paraffin wax. Other than that, individuals with poor circulation or a history of numbness in their hands should steer clear of paraffin wax, as they may not feel the temperature accurately.
2. Is paraffin harmful to skin?
No. Instead, using liquid paraffin on your skin is 100% safe, even if you use it on a regular basis provided you are not using it on any open cuts or wounds.