Daifullah Al Aboud, Khalid Al Aboud, V Ramesh


A barber’s profession is closely linked to the beliefs of
an individual. Many people visit the barber at regular
intervals and spend a significant time in shop, either
waiting for their turn to come or during cutting and/or
shaving of their hairs. The time spent in the shop is
when people informally exchange talks with each
other which include the customers themselves and the
barber. The opinion given by the barber is often taken
for granted since in the eyes of the customers the
barber speaks through professional experience,
practical observation, and instills confidence by
relating the true experience of others too. These facts
assume significance if one thinks of utilizing the
barber’s shop for public health education.
Some skin disorders may have escaped the
attention of the client and may be pointed out by the
barber while doing his job. Alopecia areata, for
example, can be first detected by the barber if the
alopecic patch is small or in an area not easily viewed
by the affected person. Other dermatological
conditions like pediculosis might be seen first by
Also, the improper techniques by the barbers
might exacerbate existing skin disorders. For example,
shaving with less foam or gel, and shaving against the
direction of hair may worsen pseudofolliculitis
In some rural areas, barbers are also involved
in medical and surgical procedures like circumcisions,
tattooing, and cupping. In addition, some new barbers
are performing what they believe as peeling or
cosmetic techniques.
The above unlicensed activities by barbers
are being done without knowing important health
principals. Therefore, some people have complications
due to these practices.
One of these complications is the cross
infection, namely microbial skin diseases and bloodborn disease transmission in developing countries 1.
Public education is an important resource to
improve the health of people in general. It helps to
narrow the knowledge gap between doctors and
ordinary people. Many myths and wrong ideas are
being propagated by people in the absence of efficient
health education. People may panic about something
transmitted by the media if there is no health
education or a source of information to address the
correct data.
A lot of myths and misconceptions need to be
addressed in connection with skin disorders. This
problem extends to family physicians too who may
hold these misconceptions.2
With advancement of our profession, and
proliferation of many government and nongovernmental organizations, we must strive to
improve public education.
The American Academy of Dermatology
(AAD) has taken many steps in this regard, for
example screening programs for skin tumors and
publishing public pamphlets about these skin
One of the authors (KA) asked barbers
randomly about some basic facts related to
dermatology and found that all of them were unaware,
not to mention that some of them delivered absolutely
erroneous views, e.g. one barber guaranteed that
androgenetic alopecia could be cured by applying a
special oil.
We believe that barber shops should be
utilized for imparting health education and we exhort
health related societies to:
1. Arrange short courses for barbers
2. Put educational pamphlets in barber shop
3. Make posters on the walls of barber shop.
This model of promoting public health has
been exploited in South Carolina through the extended
use of not only barbers’ shops but also beauty
saloons.3 The themes for health awareness are created
by a dedicated team of workers whose goal is to
disseminate disease prevention measures to places
where people frequent.
Cooperation between health authorities and
municipalities is to be encouraged. Health authorities
should provide strict supervisions on the barbers'
shops, and in particular,

Full Text:



Khaliq AA, Smego RA. Barber shaving and blood-borne

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Acne vulgaris: myths and misconceptions among patients and

family physicians. Patient Educ Couns 2004 Jul;54(1):21-5.

Hendricks C. Fostering Healthy Communities @ Hair Care

Centers. ABNF J 2000;11(3):69-70.


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