The study, which analysed the hair clippers of barbers in three areas in Cape Town, has found a significant contamination by blood-borne viruses.

IOL reports that hepatitis B, a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause acute and chronic disease, was detected with enough DNA copies to pose a risk of transmitting infection.

The clean-shave “chiskop” one gets from a barber could be a point of viral transmission between different clients serviced with the same pair of clippers.

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Experts reportedly investigated widespread clipper contamination by blood and hepatitis B.

Barbers from Langa, Bonteheuwel and Gugulethu participated in the study. One set of clippers from each barber was collected straight after it had been used for a clean-shave haircut. Each set was then rinsed with phosphate-buffered saline and submerged in a viral medium.

From the clippers collected, 42% were positive for detection of blood and 8% were positive for hepatitis B. Bonteheuwel had a significantly higher widespread of blood contamination at 72%, compared with 33% of those from Langa and Gugulethu.

The blades of hair clippers tend to pick up blood from pimples on the scalp, and the same blood may infect the other clients, according to a report.

The researchers also found that barbers regularly clean the blades of their clippers with either methylated spirits or exposure to an open flame.

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The authors said further studies to investigate barber-clipper sterilisation practices and whether the clean-shave hairstyle is an independent risk factor for HIV, HBV and hepatitis C virus infections are warranted.

“Public education on individual clipper ownership should be advocated for clean-shave and blade-fade haircuts,” the authors said.

Additional reporting by IOL