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.