A couple of years ago barbing saloons were uncommon, barbing was not seen as a profession in Nigeria but the story is very different today. Barbing saloons are everywhere and so many young boys take it as a profession or do it on part time basis to augment their earnings. Like most jobs, barbing has its health hazards and it is wise to know about these hazards so as to take necessary precautions.
The hazards associated with barbing are due to instruments used, dyes, shampoos, hair sprays, hair conditioners, hair colouring chemicals.
When you remember that as a barber you have to cut and dress the hair of several people in one day, about six days a week then you will realize he danger you are exposed to.
We shall now address some of the health hazards faced by barbers.
Barbers are prone to inhale chemicals from hair sprays and powder particles. The barber can react to these two items by difficult breathing, shortness of breath. The aerosols and powder particles can settle in the tiny ends of the barbers breathing tubes in the lungs leading to what is called chronic obstructive lung disease; which could diminish the amount of oxygen that leaves the lungs into the rest of the body.
2. Contact skin rash
Barbers can react to scissors, hair dyes, shampoos, hair sprays etc; the reaction shows itself in the form of skin rash; a condition called Contact Dermatitis. This is worse in people with history of allergies prior to becoming barbers. In the case of scissor, the barber may be reacting to the nickel plating on the scissors. Barbers may also develop skin rash to rubber gloves, in which they can use PVC gloves.
3. Lung diseases
The lung problems associated with the barbers include asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease as mentioned earlier, shortness of breath, running nostrils and cancer of the lungs and respiratory tract (larynx, trachea, bronchi and bronchioles)
Studies have shown that there is a slight risk increase among barbers for some cancers than the general population; the cancers include lung/respiratory tract cancer, cancer of the blabber, breast, digestive organs and genitals (testis). However the difference in risk is most pronounced in the case of cancer of the bladder and multiple myeloma (a form of bone cancer).
The increased risk is due to skin absorption of the chemicals used by barbers to dye and dress hair. Use of hand gloves can reduce the risk. The chemicals can also enter the body of the barber when he uses his mouth to hold combs, pins or clips while working.
5. Eye injuries/Blindness
Chemicals used in the barbing salon can reach the eyes through vapour, splashing, or unwashed fingers. Such accidents can cause serious eye injuries and blindness in some cases
6. Reproductive problems
Barbers have a slightly higher risk of cancer of the genitals due to dyes used than the general population, if this happens, they may have difficulties fathering babies.
In the course of their work hairdressers and cosmetologists can sustain some cuts on the skin, such small injuries may heal easily or develop into sores. They should be given appropriate attention.
8. Communicable diseases
In this age of HIV, Lassa fever, Ebola fever, open wounds are most undesirable. Hair dressers with open wounds can contract the diseases just mentioned if the client has any of them but not yet ill.