How to avoid getting ringworm from your barber
Australians are urged to ensure their hairdresser sterilizes equipment between appointments after an 11-year-old boy developed ringworm after visiting the hairdresser.
Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin. It is usually an itchy, circular rash with clearer skin in the center.
It often spreads through direct, skin-to-skin contact with an infected person and through contact with objects or surfaces that an infected person has come into contact with.
To avoid contamination at the hairdresser, customers should request that the clipping equipment has been sterilized between uses.
“In the barbershop, it can spread through poorly sanitized combs or towels, and in severe cases can lead to permanent scarring and hair loss,” dermatologists told Men’s Health.
A mother says her 11-year-old son contracted ringworm on the back of his head after visiting a barbershop in Sydney. Pictured: The yeast infection seven days after he visited the store
Babircide is the most popular barbershop disinfectant and barbers should use it to sterilize equipment between each customer to kill germs on the tools.
‘The [barbicide] active ingredient of alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride is effective in killing bacteria, fungi and viruses,” Anthony M. Rossi, MD, dermatologist at Dermatologic, Mohs, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery told Men’s Health.
He also urged those who got a haircut to check their skin before going.
“To minimize your risk of developing an infection, cancel your appointment if you have open or rough skin, which can increase your risk of developing an infection,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Ringworm infections can be treated with antifungal medications for a period of time, but can be very embarrassing to a person if it is visible.
Iman Taleb, a microbial ecologist at the University of Melbourne, says the scalp is most vulnerable to ringworm infection.
The academic added: ‘Weeks after the onset of infection, the hair becomes brittle in the infected area and begins to fall, leaving bald, reddish patches on the scalp. Worryingly, the infection is highly contagious.”
Ringworm gets its name from its appearance and no worm is involved
The warning comes after a mom took her 11-year-old son to the store on Sept. 4 to get a faded haircut for his birthday, one where the sides are shaved short and the length remains at the top.
But a few days later, the fungal skin infection — causing a rash and itching — appeared on the back of his head where the barber had used the clippers.
She initially called the store to report what had happened and was told by an employee that she was the third person to call that day with the same complaint.
“I was shocked by their arrogant attitude,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
“It was the worst case of ringworm I’d ever seen.
“It wasn’t a hole in the wall. It is a franchise store in a few locations.
“I feel angry at the blatant disregard of their responsibility to have proper and appropriate infection control mechanisms in place.”
The mother said the salon only seemed a little apologetic, offered no refunds and told her it was a problem many hairdressers faced because clippers hadn’t been sanitized enough.
Although the ringworm started to disappear after she sought medical treatment, she said the incident was extremely distressing for her son.
“He was incredibly ashamed,” she said.
“It was also uncomfortable for him.
Australians are urged to ensure their hairdresser practices good hygiene and properly sterilizes all their equipment
“I’m going to get clippers now and do the fades myself.”
The mother contacted NSW Health, who told her that barber shops were not under their jurisdiction, but advised her to report the matter to the City of Sydney Council.
She said she was told to report the matter to WorkCover NSW and file a complaint.
The mother shared a photo of the back of her son’s scalp covered in red scaly bumps on Facebook this week to warn other parents about hygiene practices.
The post, which has garnered more than 200 comments, was inundated with comments from other parents reporting similar experiences.
“My son went through this too,” said one mother.
‘It took a while to get rid of it and turned into kerion (pus-filled sores). It’s been two years now and his hair is still very patchy in those areas.”
Pictured: A stock image of a man getting a haircut in a barber shop
Another said: ‘My son had the same problem. It took six months to get rid of it.’
The mother told Daily Mail Australia that she wants to raise awareness about the importance of asking hairdressers if they have disinfected their equipment.
“It was Father’s Day when we went. Our boy was one of probably dozens of kids who had clippers that day and now have an unsightly and highly contagious skin infection,” she said.
“It’s a pretty dire situation, especially now that we’ve just come out of a pandemic and infection control should be a top priority for everyone.
“I think they have failed in their duty of care.”
The barbershop manager told Daily Mail Australia that the other two cases were not in his shop but from previous incidents in Queensland.
He said he apologized and thanked the mother for bringing it up so employees could be more careful about the matter.
The boy reported to his mother that his head was irritated the day after the cut before red bumps started to appear
“It just hasn’t happened now. It’s been happening for years. It’s very common in barber shops,” he said.
‘It’s not just remediation, it’s a fungus. It comes from cats and dogs, but maybe people have it and if you cut another customer’s hair, it ends up on the machines.”
The manager said his employees’ equipment was clean every morning and between customers.
He said that given the contagious nature of ringworm, and its ability to get from multiple sources, such as animals, they couldn’t determine where he caught it.
‘[The sanitisation] should kill the fungus. Ringworms don’t just happen to the machines,’ he said.
“How do we know it’s coming from here? He could have had it already. Sometimes it takes weeks for it to develop.’
WHAT IS RINGWORM?
Ringworm is an itchy circular rash caused by a fungal infection
It often spreads through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal
Mild ringworm often responds to antifungal medications applied to the skin, but more severe infections may require the use of antifungal pills for several weeks
Symptoms include itching, a scaly ring-shaped area, scattering of bumps that range in color from red on white skin to reddish, purplish, brown, or gray on black and brown skin, slightly raised dilating rings, a round, flat spot of itchy skin or overlapping rings
Source: Mayo Clinic