Bloodborne HIV: Don't Get Stuck!

Protect yourself from bloodborne HIV during healthcare and cosmetic services

Patron observed sterile treatment for hairstyling, haircutting and shaving

POST for beauty salons, haircutting, and shaving
1. Avoid skin-piercing procedures (a) Avoid getting a shave in barber’s shop if you are not able to ensure the razor is new. (b) When you get a haircut, don’t let the barber shave your neck unless he or she uses a new razor. (c) If your barber plans to use an electric clippers to cut your hair to your scalp (for a bald look), and if you are not sure the clippers have been sterilized, ask the barber to shave your head with a new razor instead.
2. Use new disposable instruments (a) For any procedure that uses a razor, ask your barber to use a new razor or half razor for you. You can buy and bring this, or the barber may have a supply of new razors. (Some shaving instruments accept a razor, while others accept a half razor.)(b) Use disposable paper napkins to clean and wipe cuts and sores.
3. You sterilize the instruments (a) Bring your own comb. Combs that are reused at a barber shop or beauty salon could carry blood or pus from previous clients’ scalp sores.(b) Bring your own electric clippers. (c) Bring your own handkerchief or other cloth to wipe cuts.
4. Ask providers how they sterilize instruments (a) All instruments reused at a barber shop or beauty salon – combs, scissors, hand-clippers, electric clippers – should be boiled or autoclaved before every new client. (b) If your barber uses an electric clipper to cut your hair at least 0.5 cm from your scalp, and you are sure there is no chance he or she will nick your scalp, you might be OK. Think about it before you decide. Electric clippers that are not boiled or autoclaved are a risk because they have many small gaps that collect hair and dirt. Wiping or soaking in bleach or alcohol does not reliably kill HIV.

Additional information about hair styling, hair cutting, and shaving

Scalp shaving: Some men like the bald look. Scalp shaving is common for children – it helps to keep them clean and prevents lice infections. Barbers often use electric clippers to shave heads, going from one child to another. Even if clippers are designed to be boiled or autoclaved, many barbers do not have enough clippers to boil them after each use. Hence, many barbers reuse clippers that are not sterile.

Hair straightening: Chemicals to straighten hair are harsh and may cause scalp sores. When you go for hair styling at a salon, consider the risk that one or more clients before you had scalp sores. Combs and scissors reused without boiling may carry HIV that can get into sores on your head (wiping or soaking combs and other instruments in bleach, alcohol, etc, is not enough) .

Risk to get HIV from shaving, haircutting, and hair styling

If a barber or hair stylist reuses razors, clippers, or combs from an HIV-positive client without any effort to clean, and if both the previous client and you have cuts or sores, your risk to get HIV may be estimated at less than 1% (see Table on Estimated risks in Blood-borne Risks section). Although these risks are small, they are common. Even a small risk can be important over time. You can avoid these risks.

If your barber uses a new razor and sterilizes combs and clippers, or if you bring your own, you can be sure that you will not get HIV from hair-cutting or styling.

10 responses to “Patron observed sterile treatment for hairstyling, haircutting and shaving

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  5. ankur singh yadav October 7, 2013 at 5:20 am

    healthy man to use the razor and aftre the use to other man very smool cut .and which time the infection of hiv.

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  7. Marshal June 26, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    The chances of getting infected is only by direct contact with the blood and it will be possible at the hair salon, hospitals, laboratory.

  8. Simon Collery June 26, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks Marshal, yes, one person coming into contact with someone else’s blood (and pus, which may be even more serious) is possible in hair salons, hospitals and other places people visit frequently. But remember, on this site we are more concerned with developing countries, especially African countries, where HIV prevalence is sometimes very high and where conditions in cosmetic and health facilities can be very poor. Opportunities for sterilizing equipment can be fewer and some services may be offered outdoors or in environments where conditions are not even close to sterile. For example, there are places in East Africa where you can get a haircut, mainly with a two sided, hand held razor, sitting on a log by the side of a road. You can bring your own razor, but there’s no guarantee it won’t go on to be used on others until it is too blunt to be used any more. Similarly, you can receive manicures, pedicures, tattoos, piercings, various traditional practices out in the open or in dusty and unsterile places because it costs a lot of money to create a sterile environment.

  9. Asya b July 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    How can you get hiv from a scissor if you have long hair…… The scissor doesn’t touch your scalp…

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