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Hairdressing/beauty salons in the city are inspected by Environmental Health Officers under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 to check for compliance with the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing. These guidelines have been prepared to provide appropriate information to the hairdressing industry and the public on issues such as infection risk, decontamination of equipment, disinfectants, operator hygiene and cleanliness.

Infections can occur during hairdressing procedures. Items such as razors, scissors, combs, clippers and hairpins can accidentally pierce the skin. Blood and body fluids do not have to be visible on instruments or working substances for infection to be transmitted. Both clients and operators are at risk.

Successful hairdressing businesses supply their clients with professionally competent, safe and hygienic services, in clean and congenial premises. To do otherwise, by following unhygienic or unsafe procedures, or to allow premises, furnishings and fittings to become dirty or poorly maintained may lead to conditions that jeopardise the health of both clients and operators and contribute to the spread of infectious disease.

Infections associated with hairdressing

Some of the infections that can be spread in hairdressing premises include:

Skin infections (including scalp, face and neck)

  • Staphylococcal infections such as impetigo
  • Fungal infections on the scalp such as tinea capitis (ringworm)

Blood infections

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

Organisms that can cause potentially serious infections may be transmitted where appropriate precautions are not taken. For example, when:

  • Implements and materials used by clients are not cleaned, handled or used hygienically
  • Proper operator hygiene is not observed
  • The facilities, furnishings and fittings of the premises are not kept clean and in good repair

Risk minimisation

It is essential for hairdressers to know and understand the health implications of the procedures carried out, and the precautions that must be taken to minimise health risks. The following basics apply to hairdressing:

  • Wash hands immediately before and after attending a client and before resuming a procedure if interrupted (i.e. answering the telephone)
  • Wear clean disposable gloves when contact with blood or bodily fluid is expected
  • Use fittings and equipment that have been properly cleaned and where necessary, sterilised before use; alternatively use single use disposable implements
  • Maintain the premise in a clean and hygienic state
  • Operators must keep themselves and their clothing clean and have no exposed cuts, abrasions or wounds
  • Handle and dispose of sharps in a safe manner
  • Consider being vaccinated against Hepatitis B

Where sterilisation of equipment is required, or where a hairdressing salon offers skin penetration procedures such as waxing, manicures, pedicures, body piercing or permanent makeup, the Guidelines on the Public Health Standards of Practice for Hairdressing must be read in conjunction with the Guidelines on the Safe and Hygienic practice of Skin Penetration.

Head Lice

Head lice live in clean or dirty human hair, and are spread from person to person through close head to head contact with an infested person, and less often by the communal use of hairbrushes, combs, hats and hair accessories. Head lice do not fly or jump; they can only crawl. Head lice are a social pest and do no transmit diseases.

Head lice are small insects (approximately 2-4mm long and 1mm wide), light to dark brown in colour, with flat bodies and six legs which end in a claw. Headlice eggs are tiny, hard, yellow to white in colour and are laid close to the scalp. Eggs are attached firmly to the hair shaft, unlike dandruff which can be brushed off

Checking for head lice

  • Work in good light, preferably daylight
  • Section the hair, and check the full length of each section, working back towards the scalp
  • Search the entire head, especially the back of the head and behind the ears


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