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- Fri Dec 21, 2007 6:36 pm
25 Years Old
I have a question about the possibility of being infected with Hep B or Hep C at the barber shop. I just came from the barber where I was nicked with the clippers. I've been nicked before. It seems that other than cutting one's own hair, there is no way to mitigate this risk. What are the chances of acquiring one of the hep viruses this way? Does Hep B or Hep C surivive for a long while outside of the body?
| Debbie Miller, RN
- Fri Dec 21, 2007 11:44 pm
Your barber should be sterilizing his shaving equipment and changing blades between patients. I'm not sure about hair clippers and what precautions he might be taking there. You pose a good question. I doubt the barbers are especially diligent about using antiseptic solutions between patients as they should be but I doubt the risk is huge or we would be seeing patterns to that effect. You can raise these questions with your barber and if he doesn't answer to your satisfaction, keep looking. I suspect this could be one possible mode of transmission, though the greatest risk is IV drug contamination and sexual contact. There are a good number of cases with unknown sources of infection.
Hepatitis does have a long life even without a host. Hepatitis B can live for seven days outside the body. At least hepatitis B can be prevented with vaccination. It's too bad we don't yet have such protection available for hepatitis C. In this world we live in, getting immunized makes sense.
Thank you for writing.