oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Allergies and other occupational diseases in the hairdressing industry : allergies in the workplace

Volume 29, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



The demand for cosmetic and hairdressing services is high. The hairdressing industry has grown to become an important source of wealth and income internationally, with informal salons and hairdressing being more common in low-income settings. The daily exposure to a wide variety of repetitive practices, substances and chemicals puts hairdressers at an increased health risk for some conditions - particularly on the skin and respiratory and musculoskeletal systems - as the workers are exposed to a diverse range of chemicals (irritants and allergens) and ergonomic risk factors. By means of a case study we illustrate the challenges a medical practitioner faces in trying to identify the causal agent responsible for a health condition at work in a trade where products contain numerous changing chemicals, yet the same chemicals may be ingredients in personal hygiene products, food and medicines to which the worker is non-occupationally exposed. It indicates the necessity of identifying the potentially hazardous chemicals through good detective work, including a detailed workplace visit and report, an exposure and task-directed history of work, hobbies and activities of daily living together with relevant special investigations in order to achieve the best management of the clinical condition.

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