One of the most common questions I get asked as a massage therapist is– “Do your hands hurt?” Well the answer is yes (but only sometimes! All muscles eventually get tired with use.) However, that’s why I have an at-home Paraffin dip that I use as a part of my self-care routine. I use it in the winter if my hands are dry and chapped, or after a busy weekend and my hands are sore or if I injure myself off the job in some clumsy way.
Unlike the thick and sticky wax used to remove unwanted hair, paraffin is a soft wax. It’s derived from petroleum, an excellent source for retaining moisture. Paraffin has a low melting point (about 110°F) so you can immerse your hand or foot in a bath without causing burning or blistering. (Do be cautious if you have sensitive skin!)
How It Works– A thick coating of paraffin wax will retain heat for several minutes– opening pores and relaxing muscles. Heat from the paraffin also increases the blood supply to the area being treated, bringing with it fresh oxygen and nutrients. Moisture from underlying layers of skin is drawn to the surface and meets with the hydrating lotion. The moisture is unable to evaporate because the seal that the paraffin has created. Moisture is then absorbed back into the skin as the wax hardens. When cooled wax is pulled away it removes dead skin cells leaving soft, hydrated skin.
Skin Benefits– Paraffin is a natural emollient that helps open pores and make the skin soft and supple. Paraffin is beneficial to dry cracked skin because it adds a waterproof coating to the skin that not only helps retain the body’s natural oils but also protects against environmental damage and dehydration. (My job obviously also requires a lot of hand washing and sanitizing, which can be drying.)
Therapeutic Benefits– The heat from the paraffin stimulates blood flow and helps relax muscles and decrease stiffness and pain in the area. Paraffin dips also increase elasticity in the muscles allowing for more movement and mobility. Muscle, tendon, and ligament ailments can all benefit from a paraffin dip.
Paraffin Dip At Home How to/ What to expect at your Nail Spa Visit:
- Prep warmer and wax according to your warmer model. (There are several at-home options that require a grate to prevent burning. Make sure it’s in the bath before dipping!)
- Apply hydrating lotion to your hands.
- Dip up to wrist for a few seconds, then remove. Keep your hand relaxed while in the bath. Repeat this dip 4 to 5 times until your hand is fully coated.
- When you have finished dipping, put your hand in a plastic liner and/or wrap it in warm towels.
- Allow wax to harden for 5-10 minutes, then remove the mitts/towels/liner and wax. (I’m usually able to wriggle free and remove all the wax inside the liner).
- I usually like to follow with some light wrist and hand stretching and self massage since I’m all warmed up- but maybe that’s because I’m a massage therapist.
Precautions – Paraffin dips can be damaging if done too often. Your body brings internal moisture to the surface as a defense mechanism because the paraffin’s air tight seal sends a message to the brain that the skin is suffocating. Overuse will eventually severely dehydrate the area. Paraffin treatments are not recommended for people with hypertension, diabetes or varicose veins. This treatment can lead to abnormal sensations, numbness and hinder circulation if you are diabetic.