You may feel more relaxed after a massage, but could it cause even more stress to your skin?

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Massage has been around for thousands of years, dating all the way back to ancient cultures in places like China, India, Egypt and Greece [source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine]. In recent years, massage has gained increasing popularity as both a means of stress relief and an alternative medical therapy. Research shows that massage therapy may treat a number of illnesses, including respiratory, neurological and muscular disorders [source: Cleveland Clinic].

With its varied health benefits, you may wonder how massage affects your skin. On the positive side, massage can soothe, loosen, stimulate and relax various parts of your body, including your skin [source: WebMD]. Moreover, massage is a stress reliever; if you have a skin condition like rosacea that flares up due to stress, it can help keep you relaxed and free of flare-ups [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

However, massage is not always good for the skin, so you need to be careful. If you do have rosacea, you want to avoid facial massages, because the increased blood flow to your face can aggravate the condition and cause a flare-up. You also want to avoid heat-intensive massages, because the heat can also trigger rosacea [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

Before you get a massage, you should also consider the current state of your skin. If you have a specific skin condition that can cause skin infections or wounds, you'll want to skip the massages until your skin heals.

If you have any doubts about whether you should have a massage, talk to your doctor or dermatologist. While massage isn't a replacement for traditional medical care, you can also talk to your doctor about using massage as a supplement to the care you're already receiving. Should you decide to go for a massage, ask any therapist you're considering about their training and credentials, as well as their experience. Then, relax and let the massage work its wonders.

For lots more information on massage and skin care, follow the links on the next page.