BARBERS’ EDUCATION; A WINDOW TO IMPROVE THE PUBLIC ABOUT SKIN DISEASES
AbstractA barber’s profession is closely linked to the beliefs ofan individual. Many people visit the barber at regularintervals and spend a significant time in shop, eitherwaiting for their turn to come or during cutting and/orshaving of their hairs. The time spent in the shop iswhen people informally exchange talks with eachother which include the customers themselves and thebarber. The opinion given by the barber is often takenfor granted since in the eyes of the customers thebarber speaks through professional experience,practical observation, and instills confidence byrelating the true experience of others too. These factsassume significance if one thinks of utilizing thebarber’s shop for public health education.Some skin disorders may have escaped theattention of the client and may be pointed out by thebarber while doing his job. Alopecia areata, forexample, can be first detected by the barber if thealopecic patch is small or in an area not easily viewedby the affected person. Other dermatologicalconditions like pediculosis might be seen first bybarbers.Also, the improper techniques by the barbersmight exacerbate existing skin disorders. For example,shaving with less foam or gel, and shaving against thedirection of hair may worsen pseudofolliculitisbarbae.In some rural areas, barbers are also involvedin medical and surgical procedures like circumcisions,tattooing, and cupping. In addition, some new barbersare performing what they believe as peeling orcosmetic techniques.The above unlicensed activities by barbersare being done without knowing important healthprincipals. Therefore, some people have complicationsdue to these practices.One of these complications is the crossinfection, namely microbial skin diseases and bloodborn disease transmission in developing countries 1.Public education is an important resource toimprove the health of people in general. It helps tonarrow the knowledge gap between doctors andordinary people. Many myths and wrong ideas arebeing propagated by people in the absence of efficienthealth education. People may panic about somethingtransmitted by the media if there is no healtheducation or a source of information to address thecorrect data.A lot of myths and misconceptions need to beaddressed in connection with skin disorders. Thisproblem extends to family physicians too who mayhold these misconceptions.2With advancement of our profession, andproliferation of many government and nongovernmental organizations, we must strive toimprove public education.The American Academy of Dermatology(AAD) has taken many steps in this regard, forexample screening programs for skin tumors andpublishing public pamphlets about these skindisorders.One of the authors (KA) asked barbersrandomly about some basic facts related todermatology and found that all of them were unaware,not to mention that some of them delivered absolutelyerroneous views, e.g. one barber guaranteed thatandrogenetic alopecia could be cured by applying aspecial oil.We believe that barber shops should beutilized for imparting health education and we exhorthealth related societies to:1. Arrange short courses for barbers2. Put educational pamphlets in barber shop3. Make posters on the walls of barber shop.This model of promoting public health hasbeen exploited in South Carolina through the extendeduse of not only barbers’ shops but also beautysaloons.3 The themes for health awareness are createdby a dedicated team of workers whose goal is todisseminate disease prevention measures to placeswhere people frequent.Cooperation between health authorities andmunicipalities is to be encouraged. Health authoritiesshould provide strict supervisions on the barbers'shops, and in particular,
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