avatar

STOP!!! Barbershop Diseases, Trichologist Explains All Part. 1

Stop barbershop infections – top tips from trichologist Tracey Walker

No barber wants to see a client receive bad service, and that includes health and hygiene as well as quality cuts. Of course, in the busy environment of a working shop it can be easy to let standards slip. That’s why I invited former hairdresser and trichologist Tracey Walker to share some information and advice that will help you keep your shop safe and clean.

But first thing’s first… what exactly does a trichologist do?

“Trichologists diagnoses and treat hair loss and scalp disorders. We are almost a specialised type of dermatologist, but we only deal with the scalp and hair. We’re not medically qualified, but we are medically trained in the areas where we need to be.”

So, this means that trichologists can help with scalp and hair issues or conditions. Tracey is also part of the Institute of Trichologists, set up by doctors, hairdressers and scientists to help build awareness and offer training. What better person to have in the interview chair?

 

Common conditions to look out for

Tracey kicked things off by telling me about the most common conditions that might affect clients after a visit to the barbershop:

  • Bacterial infections in general, and specifically impetigo. This is highly contagious, and often seen around the mouth or on the upper lip – so particularly relevant when a client comes in for a shave. Look for symptoms that are “almost like a crusting of the skin”.This happens when bacteria in the nose drips down onto the upper lip and becomes pathogenic. It may just look like regular dry skin, and could be passed on by a barber not washing their hands or sanitising tools.
  • Fungal infections. These are particularly common in children, and easy to spread from person to person, either on your tools or on your hands. One common fungal infection is ringworm, which my just look like a patch of dry scaly skin on the scalp and is easily misdiagnosed as flaky skin or dandruff. Tracey points out that it is “easily transferred from person to person on tools such as brushes.
  • Folliculitis. This is particularly common in young black men, as it is caused by the way in which afro hair regrows after a very short haircut. Unlike the other conditions, this isn’t contagious, however it certainly can affect people visiting the barbershop:“We do see it a lot when people have had very short haircuts, or had their heads shaved. What happens there is that when the hair is shaved, and it goes slightly lower than the scalp’s surface, then when it grows is starts to bend up and scratches or tickles the scalp. It’s very itchy, so the client can start scratching and cause secondary infection.”So how could you safeguard against this? “Avoid any scratching, or excess scratching to the scalp. So keep the scalp healthy, use the right shampoo for the scalp type. If the scalp is itchy then there are lotions that can calm it. And if someone comes in suffering from folliculitis and they have quite a short hair cut then encourage people to grow their hair a little longer”.

As always, then, prevention is the best cure! Tracey also points out that the scalp is just like the rest of your skin – so, for instance, if it’s dry then you’ll need to moisturise it.

I decided to follow up by getting Tracey’s take on some specific barbershop scenarios, and she certainly didn’t disappoint. So, without further ado, here is some in depth info to help you keep clients safe in specific situations.

 

Scenario one: A guy with long hair comes into your barbershop for a quick trim. You put the cloak on him and then spray his hair damp. Water starts to drip down the guy’s neck and collect at the collar.

“This may not cause an immediate problem if the person is healthy, but what we have to keep in mind is that somebody’s susceptibility to infection will increase if there are open wounds. So, for example, if somebody has eczema that affects the back of the neck, or psoriasis, then bacterial infection will get into those open wounds, and that’s what we call a secondary infection.”

This could also affect very old or very young clients, or people on medications such as immunosuppressants. Not cleaning the gown could also increase risk.

Tracey recommends: Use a necktie, or work with one use, disposable gowns.

 

Scenario two: A client comes in for a skin fade. You get them settled in the chair and then set to work… down with the brush, up with the clipper, down with the brush, up with the clipper and so on.

Tracey’s first thought is that brushing the hair vigorously is rarely a good thing – it causes so much damage, both to the hair itself and the scalp. “Once the skin is abrased, and the top layer of the skin is taken off, then bacteria and fungus can actually get into the skin, and get down to the deeper layer”. This can cause the types of infection that we discussed before, especially if things aren’t cleaned properly.

Tracey recommends: Proper sanitisation! “It’s alright to have a barbicide jar, but what I’ve seen is that after using a comb people will just put it straight in. That’s no good, you have to clean it first. Putting it in water is not going to remove that oil and dirt. You have to clean it first with a detergent, then rinse it, then put it in the barbicide jar with fresh barbicide”.

 

Scenario three: You’re giving a client a hot towel shave, using a towel that was cleaned in a domestic washing machine and a blade that was used on a previous client. You’re also using a barber brush that was rinsed with hot water.

  • Many of the issues we’ve discussed would apply here – such as bacterial or fungal infections being passed on via the equipment.
  • If the towel has been boil washed then that will offer good protection, but a standard wash cycle won’t sterilise equipment.
  • Water on its own isn’t sufficient. Equipment needs to be washed with detergent and, ideally, sterilised too. You can sterilise the brush by dipping just the bristles in barbicide. It’s also fine to use Milton sterilising fluid, which is commonly used for sterilising baby equipment, especially if you want something slightly gentler.

 

So many useful tips packed into this interview! Mostly, though, it all comes down to keeping things clean – and that means washing your hands properly as well as sterilising tools. Look out for part two of this interview, where I’ll share some more quickfire tips from Tracey, and hopefully give you all the information you need to put the tips you’ve read here into action.

Follow me as Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to make sure you don’t miss what’s sure to be one of the most important interviews of the year.

Please follow and like us:
avatar

STOP!!! Barbershop Diseases, Trichologist Explains All Part 2

Quickfire hygiene tips from trichologist Tracey Walker

 

Hopefully you’ve already checked out part. 1 of my interview with former hairdresser and trichologist Tracey Walker. If not, I’d recommend taking a look, as Tracey gives some fascinating insights into the possible infections that can be picked up at a barbershop… as well as genuinely useful information for avoiding them.

Now, though, it’s on to part two, and I wanted to ask Tracey’s opinion on some specific barbershop issues that have been on my mind.

 

First up: does she think it’s a good idea to use gloves instead of washing hands between cuts?

“I don’t really. There are situations where gloves should be used, but if you’re sitting down for a haircut and somebody comes along all gloved up then you might sit there and wonder what they’re going to do to you!

“Also, I think it’s important that we do touch people’s heads. If there’s the smallest bump or abrasion we may miss it – wearing gloves, you don’t always feel what’s happening.”

This could also make you too complacent about washing hands in general: not a good thing for a barber. Finally, if somebody was infected to the point that you felt you had to use gloves then you shouldn’t cut their hair at all, as you may move the infection around”.

 

Next up, I asked whether the dusting brush can be an area of concern.

The main issue here would be head lice. Specifically, if you draw headlice out with a comb and then leave the comb next to a dusting brush, then they may migrate to the bristles. The best thing to do is to avoid cutting the hair of anybody who has lice – and if a brush does pick up lice then just get rid of it!

 

What does a trichologist like Tracey think about industry regulation?

“It’s a difficult one. I think it would be important to try and regulate the industry, and even have inspections. In hair salons the chemicals that are used are so strong, and the blades, the clippers, all the electrical equipment – you have to be trained in these areas”.

 

Finally, then, what is Tracey’s overall advice to barbershop owners?

“First of all, hairdressers and barbers in my experience are people who care about people. They want to make them look good, give them the latest style, make them feel good. And I feel like looking after your client, you not only give them the best cut you can, but you’ve got to look after their health as well. You have to keep in mind what can happen.

“So just simple little things like remembering to wash your hands between each client – we don’t know what they have, and they may not have anything, but it’s just good practice. And to wash them properly, and to dry them as well.

“Have a couple of barbicide jars, and give your comb a good wash with some detergent – it doesn’t need to be time consuming. So just two simple things there: washing your hands, and making sure that equipment is actually put in the barbicide jar, clean, would go a long way towards making sure that you’re looking after your client in the best possible way.”

A big thank you to Tracey for providing so much useful information – I genuinely think that these tips could make or break a barber shop so definitely put it into practice! And don’t forget to come and find me as instagram, Facebook and YouTube, as that’s where you’ll find more great interviews with industry experts.

 

Please follow and like us: