Hepatitis May Lurk at Barbershops Nail Salons

November 12, 2012

Hepatitis May Lurk at Barbershops Nail Salons

In response to the present situation where there are no infection-control guidelines enforced by federal government to prevent hepatitis infections in barbershops or nail salons, a new study has been published.

The study was presented to the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Washington, D.C., where Dr. David A. Johnson, of Eastern Virginia Medical School, said, “The risk of transmission of infectious disease, particularly hepatitis B and C, in personal care settings is significantly understudied in the United States”.

Although presented to the meeting, this study, which analyzed a Virginia Department of Health report investigating the risk of hepatitis infection in nail salons and barber shops, has not yet been subjected to the exacting scrutiny necessary for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journals.

The report suggests that if the tools used in barbers and nail salons are not cleaned to the required standards then the customers may be at risk of hepatitis infection. The report does accept that the regulations presently in force are stringent enough but questions the amount of compliance there is in the industry.

If followed, the present regulations will ensure that tools such as nail brushes, files, foot basins, finger bowls, clippers, razors and scissors are all suitably disinfected. This disinfection ensures that no hepatitis can be transmitted. The researchers question the ability to ensure that all workers follow these rules.

Dr Johnson, says, “Whether there is sufficient compliance with disinfection requirements is an important variable in the safety of salon and barbershop services from a public health perspective”.

It was a reported case of acute hepatitis C which was “clearly related to a manicure/pedicure treatment,” according to Johnson, which initiated the study into barber shops and nail salons and any associated links to hepatitis in customers.

Hepatitis is a disease affecting the liver which can occasionally be fatal and causes the liver to enlarge.

Johnson advocates that customers ask about the procedures each shop follows when sterilizing equipment. He also points out that taking your own clippers, razors and other equipment may be the answer if you have any concerns.

Other proposals regarding minimizing the risk of being infected by hepatitis are:

  • Ensure proper training for nail salon and barbershop employees, ensuring the principles of good hygiene are addressed and the need for proper disinfection

  • Give workers further education on how hepatitis spreads, including general blood borne infections

  • Produce more stringent requirements and more inspections to ensure that the higher standards are maintained

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