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Massage therapy is very beneficial to people that need muscle manipulation to alleviate pain, tension, and increase circulation. The body’s natural painkiller, endorphins, is released to the brain and nervous system during the massage. If performed improperly or in an unsanitary manner, receiving a massage can result in injury or the transmission of diseases such as tuberculosis, Hepatitis B, scabies, or fungal infections.

The Massage Program was developed to control the transmission of disease to massage therapists and their patients. Under County Code 113, the Department of Health inspects massage establishments to ensure the facilities are designed, operated, and maintained in a clean and sanitary manner.

All massage therapists that administer massage in Saint Joseph County must be licensed with the Indiana State Board of Massage Therapy and obtain a permit from the St. Joseph County Department of Health. In addition, the facility where massage is administered must also be permitted by the Department of Health. Permit renewals are due by the last day of February each year. A massage therapist may not operate out of a residence at any time.

What should I look for to assess the cleanliness of a massage establishment?

  • Clean linens, sheets, and towels with soiled items properly stored
  • A place to shower with an available restroom
  • No locks on massage room doors
  • Floors are clean and debris-free

For more information on obtaining a massage permit or if you have concerns regarding a massage establishment or therapist, contact the Department of Health at or (574) 235-9722.