Men are great risk takers and sometimes lose their lives or get maimed in the process. It’s not just in the motor sport or mountain climbing, for instance, that danger looms. It equally looms while seated at the barbershop’s chair. The cheaper the barbershop or hairdresser is, the higher the risk. It’s part of good grooming to visit a barbershop either to have your haircut or your beard shaved.
And this is where the problem begins. The same hands and same equipment are used on the skin or scalp of different individuals, sometimes without much cleaning or disinfection if the barbershop does not have high hygiene standards. There is always a chance that your barber or hairdresser or even a customer may have an infection, or even a contagious disease. This can be easily transmitted to you, particularly if you get an abrasion or cutting on your skin during the use of the shaving machines, razors or the scissors.
It’s no guarantee that you wouldn’t find barbers with little or no training in infections control practices doing haircutting. That’s not all. You’re likely to contract many diseases in the barbershop, for instance, scurf, which causes hair and beard to fall. It is accompanied by different symptoms including dandruff and baldness. This illness is spread by the use of equipments that are not properly cleaned and sterilised. There are many other diseases that can develop in the skin of your head or face, such as eczema, herpes, vesicles, pustules and scabs, which are contagious and can all be considered as belonging to the same class as scurf.
Another major disease in barbershops is ringworm; a condition caused by several species of fungi that are easily transmitted by direct contact, or by contact with contaminated equipment and towels. Infestations of head lice, also known as pediculosis, are also spread in the same way. Other diseases of the scalp that are spread in a similar manner include staphylococcal and other bacterial and yeast infections. Of these infectious diseases, methycillin resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA is of greatest concern.
If a towel or drape such as a sheet is used on an infected client and instruments such as clippers, combs and razors are used successively without proper cleaning and disinfection, there are high chances of spreading an infection or infestation. The potential spread of viral blood borne diseases such as hepatitis B, C and HIV has been added to the list of risk in barbering and beauty operations. These diseases are transmitted by direct contact with an infected individual. A simple nick caused by a clipper or razor can be the means for their spread.
Unbelievably, dander and hair clippings are a source of allergens for certain atopic (sensitised) individual and manifests itself by causing a wide variety of symptoms including eczema, hives and skin rashes; itching, watery or puffy eyes; respiratory conditions such as nasal discharges and sneezing.
The use of clean, disinfected instruments and equipment on each client is a must. Towels and drapes are supposed to be used only once and instruments such as clippers, combs and razors thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each use. In addition, personal cleanliness on the part of the barber or beautician is also an essential control measure.
A barber who services a sick customer ought to be disinfected, just as surgeons disinfect themselves.
Most importantly however, is training of barbers in infection control practices and on diseases associated with barbering and their prevention. Have you witnessed these control measures applied in your barbershop especially in that cheap one? Make it one of your 2013 resolutions to be hawk-eyed in the barbershop; it may save your life.
Published on January 2013