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Razor Blade Cut in Salon The Body: Rick Sowadsky M.S.P.H., C.D.S, Answers to Safe Sex Questions

Jan 27, 1997

Rick, I recently got a haircut from a busy salon. An old razor blade was used to trim my sideburns. The hairdresser accidentally cut me with the blade. Since the blade was re-used, I'm worried about the blade possibly cutting somebody else prevously, the hairdresser not cleaning the blade, and then cutting me with it. Has anybody ever been infected in this manner? Am I just being paranoid? Would you recommend me getting tested based on this incident? Thanks.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

Based on what you told me, your risks were very low. This is for several reasons. First of all, if the razor had cut a previous customer, barbers and hair stylists are trained to clean razors between use, especially if they are contaminated by blood. So the chance that you were even exposed to blood at all from a previous customer is extremely unlikely.

In addition, HIV will only live outside the body for several minutes. It dies very quickly once it is outside the body. The longer it is outside the body, the weaker it gets and the less the chance for transmission to occur. So it would be unlikely that even if there was blood on the razor, that you were put at any risk.

Now, realistically speaking, the chances that a previous customer was HIV positive, was also cut with the same razor just minutes before you, and the barber/hair stylist didn't clean the razor, and then cut you, is extremely unlikely. In fact, HIV has never been transmitted in a barbershop/hair salon setting. To put it another way, if you got infected under this scenario, you'd be the very first person in the world to get infected under these circumstances. Because barbers/hair stylists are trained in hygiene and cleaning contaminated instruments between use, your risk of being exposed to the blood of another person is very unlikely in this setting.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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