Personal Injury

Common Risks in a Barbershop

Going to the barber is usually safe. In most jurisdictions, barbers need to be licensed and insured to practice. They should also have a minimum of training. As long as you stick to a reputable shop, there should be nothing to worry about.

There are some dangers in a barbershop that you need to be aware of. Primarily, these risks are related to infections in the little possibility of injury.

Avoiding infection is one of the essential things about needs to do. It means that all equipment must be carefully cleaned and sanitized. Usually, this can be done with a sanitizing solution such as barbicide or with specialized appliances like an autoclave.

You can also reduce your risk of infection of the barbers by not going there when you have cuts and open wounds. It also refers if you have an illness such as a cold. In this case, better to stay away.

Cutting hair is a business of narrow margins, and so successful barbers may see dozens of clients every day. Each new person that comes into a barber increases the risk of disease for everyone around. 

Then risks that come with poorly trained or incompetent staff and improperly maintained equipment could occur. It turns out that going to the barbershop may not be as safe as people think. 

General hazards in barbers 

Sometimes people's work runs the risk of an accident. It also applies in an environment like a barbershop, with free access to sharp blades and electrical equipment. In the wrong hands, common barbershop equipment can do surprising damage. Some common injuries are:

  • Cuts from scissors and razor blades
  • Burns from irons and dryers 
  • Scalding from hot water
  • Hair loss from barber mistakes 
  • Viruses from other customers
  • Barber's rash/barber's itch

Infections in a barbershop

Any time the skin is cut, there is a risk of hair infection. It's very easy for a barber to cut a customer's skin accidentally. And even the tiniest scratch creates a pathway for gross infection.

Shaving your beard can cause razor bumps. And these unsightly spots can be more serious than you think. The technical term is Pseudofolliculitis barbae, and it happens when beard hair begins to grow after a close shave. Growing hair causes the follicle to become inflamed.

In more severe cases, these razor bumps can become infected, causing them to look like acne. You can avoid this by exfoliating before shaving. And try to avoid alcohol-based aftershave products that dry the skin and increase the risk of inflammation. Sometimes, the best solution to this problem is just to let your beard grow until the hair is too long to grow back into the skin.

Another risk is barbers who don't maintain their appliances well. Tools that aren't regularly disinfected can easily give rise to infections, some of them quite serious. 

Additionally, equipment that isn't properly sanitized can spread a variety of diseases. These risks include:

  • Folliculitis - an infected hair follicle that looks like a pimple. Also known as barber's rash
  • Tinea Capitis - ringworm of the scalp. Not a worm but a fungal infection caused by using dirty towels and combs.
  • Herpes - can be transmitted via waxing applicator sticks.
  • Impetigo - transmitted by bacteria on unwashed hands.

Precautions before visiting the salon

Preventing infection and minimizing the risk of injury at a barbershop is part of every barber's training. Being a customer, you have to make inquiries whether your barber is fully licensed and has a good reputation. Poorly trained, unlicensed barbers tend to gain a bad reputation very quickly. 

If you feel uncomfortable choosing a barber, don't be afraid to ask questions:

  1. How long have they been cutting hair?
  2. Where did they study?
  3. What are their procedures to prevent infection?

Pay close attention to how a barber handles the tools that will be used to cut your hair:

  1. Does a barber sanitize equipment before and after using it?
  2. Is the barbershop clean and well kept?
  3. Is there visible sanitizing equipment in the area?

All these precautions can help to avoid more than just a bad haircut. They can reduce the risk of injury or infection, as well.

What to do if you find a problem

Even the best barbers have bad days. If a barber's negligence has injured you, there are steps to take that can save the situation. 

The first step is to seek medical advice. Document everything your doctor says about any injury or infection you receive at a barbershop.

Cutting hair is a regulated profession. Many jurisdictions have an overseeing body that monitors complaints. 

Finally, it may be possible to seek legal means to get compensation. If you can prove that your barber was negligent in their duty of care toward you, you may be entitled to a settlement.

If you decide to file a lawsuit

Barbers have a duty of care toward the client. When a barbershop is not compliant with the standards of care, barbers can be found liable for injury done to their clients. Staff should be licensed and trained to avoid injury and infection. If that isn't the case, barbers may be found negligent and liable. 

Every situation is different, so be sure to seek professional advice from the lawyers on our website.


Can I get an infection at the barbershop?

It isn't common to get a hair infection at the barber, but there is a high probability. Folloculitis, ringworm, impetigo, barber's itch, and even herpes are all possible. 

Is it possible to get barbershop lice from other customers?

Anyone who's ever tangled with head lice knows how easily they spread. Competent barbers will notice if a client has headlice and will sterilize their equipment immediately. But a poorly trained or negligent barber might use the same appliances to cut your hair as they did to cut the hair of someone with lice. And that can spread these creatures to others. 

Is ringworm transmitted at the hairdresser? 

Yes and no. There is a gross infection called ringworm of the scalp that can be transmitted by unsanitary towels and equipment. The fungal infection Tinea Capitis is called ringworm because the red scaly skin it causes resembles a ringworm infection. So although there are no actual worms involved, this is not something anyone wants to bring home from a barber.

Can I get a disease from a barbershop? 

Yes. Poorly sanitized equipment can lead to a variety of infections and diseases, including herpes. There is also a slight risk of tetanus if you get nicked by scissors or a razor blade. 

Luckily, most of these diseases are extremely rare, and in a well-run barbershop, you shouldn't have to worry about getting sick.

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