University beauty salon possible reservoir of dangerous diseases —Study

Despite the brightly lit and stylishly decorated salons that dot many university environs, experts say they may serve as a reservoir of dangerous diseases such as hepatitis, HIV and ringworm because of some unhygienic practices.

In a study, researchers found that fomites (combs and brushes) used in beauty salons within the campuses of University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, harbour significantly high levels of disease-causing germs, some potentially very dangerous.

The researchers took a swab of the combs and brushes from these salons and tested them at the laboratory to know the types and level of disease-causing germs they carry.

The germs isolates obtained from the salon tools included Staphylococcus aureus (27.7 per cent) and Bacillus spp.(22.2 per cent)  that cause skin infections such as skin abscess and impetigo. Others include germs that cause fungal infection of the scalp, neck and face such as ringworm.

The 2019 study entitled “Evaluation of Microbial Contamination of Combs and Brushes in Beauty Salons within the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria” was published in the Archives of Current Research International.

The researchers included H.O. Stanley and T.T. Oba from the University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt in collaboration with C. J. Ugboma from the Rivers State University, Nkpolu, Port Harcourt.

According to the survey, no  form  of  cleaning  or  sterilisation  was carried out for these tools and this had led to the build-up  of  microorganisms and so putting customers of these salons at risk of infections.

They declared: “inevitably, salon  workers handle these  tools  with  their  hands  and  this  can contribute  to  the  spread  of  infections  if  these hands are not thoroughly washed.

“It is advisable that  salons  use  single-use  products such  as razor  blades,  disposable  gloves,  paper towelling where possible and all equipment must either be discarded or cleaned in hot water and detergent and  allowed  to  dry  before  re-used  on another client.”

Contamination of hairdressing salons is used as an indicator of the burden  of  ringworm infestation in  society,  particularly where the fungi are prevalent and occur in epidemics.

Beauty salon services may pose potential health concerns to their clients, including the risk of infection and injury.  These health risks will vary depending on the nature of the service, the tools used, the health status of the clients and service providers, as well as the infection control procedures,  implemented.

While invasive procedures,  such  as piercing  and  tattooing,  are clearly   associated with  bacterial and viral infection  risks,  even  non-invasive  procedures, such as  hair  dressing,  pedicure  and  manicure can result in infections.

Beauty salons play an important role in the possible transfer of skin and eye infections due to the use and reuse of beauty salon tools and equipment.

Items such as razors, scissors, combs, clippers and hairpins can accidentally pierce the skin.  Nail and cuticle clippers, nail files, and callus removers used in beauty salons have also been implicated in diseases such as HIV or hepatitis among beauty salon users.

It has been estimated that 10 to 20 per cent of beauty salon customers are affected by skin disorders.