I’m one of those people who usually relishes the thought of going to the salon and having someone else do my hair. Keywords: SOMEONE ELSE DO MY HAIR. After a month of struggling with styles that fall apart after a week, tough a** new growth and beat-ed-bees at the back of my neck that literally feel like hard lint balls, it’s nice to go to someone for a few hours and have them do a miracle on my naps. But more and more these days, I’ve found that the salon experience isn’t what it used to be, especially on the sanitary level. I rarely see people sit their combs in the all mighty blue jar of Barbicide anymore (which used to be a clear sign of cleanliness in a shop), I’ve had people sniffling it up battling colds trying to put their hands on my hair, not to mention folks trying to put braids in my hair while they munch on a bag of greasy chips in between plaits.
Oh the professionalism.
But I think the worst experience I’ve had during my time in the comfy rotating chairs of salons was the time I left out with not only a fancy new haircut but a nasty case of ringworm sitting dead on my scalp. I never paid the greatest amount of attention to where my hairdresser was pulling her combs and tools out from, but I’d always assumed that she was clean enough. Usually, when I come into the salon, I’m not thinking about it. I guess you could say that my thought process used to be, “I mean really, what’s the worst that could happen?”
Well, one day after having my hair done to the nines, I went to run errands and while waiting for the train, I felt a soreness on my head that was more pronounced than any pimple I’d ever had before. My forehead felt a little tight and from what I could feel sans a mirror, there was a large circular lump in the place of hair. By the time I got home and looked in the mirror, the circular lump was actually an assemblage of tiny bumps all sitting in a circle, puss sitting at the tip of each one while the spot around the bump was bright red (sorry for the graphic details). Not sure what was going on and being an immature lover of popping pimples over the years, I proceeded to pop a few of them. But something told me to look up my symptoms, and I was shocked to find that all these tiny pimples were actually a friggin’ ringworm, contagious and disgusting.
I guess ringworms run in my family when it comes to hanging out at the hair salon. Back when fades on women were originally all the rage in the ’90s, my sister used to go to the shop and get her hair fried, dyed, laid to the side, and of course, lined up. From what I could remember, her hair was always in some Salt & Pepa type style and with her large earrings (which would later rip her lobes), she was the definition of fresh. But after one unsanitary meeting with a pair of clippers, my sister had to deal with an unsightly throbbing ringworm on the back of her neck. And I can’t forget to mention the colleague in college who went to get his beard trimmed, got nicked with a razor, and because the clippers used were dirty, ended up with a nasty infection on his face.
Once again–Oh the professionalism.
What’s sad about these scenarios is the fact that my oldest sister, my friend, and I weren’t going to back alley or kitchen hairdressers to get dolled up. We were going to people who were licensed and should have known better the importance of keeping it cool and clean when it comes to the tools they use, including their hands. Even the best stylists with a bevvy of clients working in a pristine salon can slip up in a moment of laziness or just forgetfulness (which can happen when you overbook and overextend yourself) and have you running to the store for Lotrimin on your own dime. Hell, you already pay a grip to get your hair done in the first place! All of this is to say that we need to keep an eye out on the people who put their hands on our heads and be sure that these individuals are being sanitary in their practices. Same goes for the people we let do our nails and put wax on our ladybits. Just because they know how to do these forms of grooming doesn’t mean they’re always doing it well.
If you’re wondering what happened post my ringworm discovery, I ran to the nearest drugstore, picked up Lotrimin, and for more than two weeks straight, proceeded to apply the cream to my unwanted skin infection. I did it as fast as I could because ringworm can cause you to lose your hair and I have enough problems with my strands already to also be worried about bald patches. I made my hairdresser aware, and while she seemed surprised by what I was saying, she didn’t really take any kind of responsibility for what part she could have played in my ringworm arrival. But that’s okay, because I used the opportunity to beg her to buy new combs and sanitize them so that this type of issue doesn’t happen to another poor soul looking for help with their unruly hair. But I can’t say that she’s actually done better, because I stopped going to her soon after. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, give me a bald patch, and somebody’s getting cut. I’m hopeful you’ll learn from my story and take precautions, and if not, just know that you can find Lotrimin in the aisle between foot cream and wart remover…Good night, and good luck.