Working in the hairdressing and barbering trade puts us at high risk of suffering from contact dermatitis. In fact, according to statistics from the HSE, our trade is in one of the occupation categories with the highest reported incidences of skin disease in the UK.
Dermatitis is a skin inflammation caused by exposure to allergens or irritants that cause the skin to become red, blistered, dry, scaly and cracked. Although dermatitis can affect the whole body it is most common in the hands and face. The condition can vary in severity, however in serious cases the sufferer may have to leave the barbering trade.
In this industry, there are many factors that can cause this skin condition including:
· Repeated over exposure to water
· Not drying hands properly after shampooing and colouring
· Sweating inside gloves
· Contact with irritants including shampoos, tints and bleaches
There are things you can do to minimise the risk of developing dermatitis including:
· Drying hands thoroughly after contact with water
· Wearing gloves when handling chemicals
· Washing and drying hands after each client to remove any product
· Moisturise your hands with suitable moisturiser
Sometimes dermatitis can be avoided; if it is a particular allergen in a product that has caused it then you may be able to avoid that product in future. However in barbering most of the time this is not possible. If the skin condition is persistent or severe, you will need to seek medical advice.
Ingrowing hairs are caused by continual close cutting. To help avoid ingrown hairs, exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells and allows your hair to grow without restrictions.
Many barbers report musculoskeletal problems. In this industry, you are on your feet for the majority of the day so you need to ensure you minimise the risk by:
- Keeping good posture
- Adjusting and reclining the barber chair height to suit
- Placing tools for ease of use
- Taking regular breaks
Hair Growth Patterns
Recognising hairline and growth patterns is an essential part to your consultation. Not noticing or ignoring adverse growth patterns when cutting can cause significant problems. Sometimes these can be obvious, however, your client may have blow-dried his hair to disguise a growth pattern so make sure you look closely at potential problem areas when the hair is dry and also spray down and look when hair is in its wet natural state.
A cows lick is a small section of hair, usually at the front hairline, that either stands up straight or lays in the opposite direction to the rest of the hair.
Normally, a person will have a section of hair at the crown of the head that appears to grow in a circular direction. A double crown is where this growth pattern appears twice, usually side by side.
A nape whirl is where the hair grows in a spiral or curved shape at the nape. This can be on either side of the head and sometimes can be both which will form a v-shape.
A widows peak is a v-shaped point in the hairline in the centre of the forehead.
Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness or alopecia androgenic is the most common cause of hair loss. This effects around 50% of men. The best advice for the barber to advise a shorter haircut that would improve the overall look.