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Hairstylist Nicked Skin On Neck During Haircut


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Dear Karen

To my horror, my hairstylist accidentally nicked the skin on my neck while she was cutting my hair. My neck bled quite a bit.

Although she apologized repeatedly and seemed very embarrassed, what should she have done after I was cut?

She did apply an antiseptic spray to the cut and then a bandage.

Should I have received the haircut for free? Should I contact my attorney? Does this kind of thing happen often?

Should I go back to her the next time? I love my new cut, but I am still a little freaked out about the nick.

Donna L


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While it doesn't happen often, it's not uncommon for salon customers to randomly experience a small nick or cut during a professional hair service.

Cuts or nicks can occur from a scissors, razor, clippers, or other sharp hairdressing instruments.

Several reasons range from a distracted stylist to a genuine slip of the fingers for nicks to occur.

The key for hair consumers is to know how this type of incident should be handled when it does occur.

When blood is spilled, even a little bit, there is a need for quick and careful action to be taken.

This is to prevent the development of infections. Or the transmittal of any blood-borne conditions such as hepatitis or HIV.

Professional hairdressers and stylists are encouraged by published cosmetology guidelines and some state laws to follow Blood Loss or Blood Spill Procedures when nicks or cuts accidentally occur during hair services.

Recommended Blood Spill Steps Required By Hair Professionals

The recommended Blood Spill steps that hair professionals should follow include:

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1. If the cut is severe or the bleeding is profuse, 911 or another emergency service should be dispatched to the scene. The hairdresser should handle the injury at the salon if the cut is a nick or slight cut.

2. When the problem is a small nick or cut, the hairdresser should instantly halt the hair service in progress and hand the injured client a sterile cloth to press against the cut. While the customer presses the cloth to the wound, the hairdresser should immediately wash their hands with liquid antibacterial soap to remove all traces of blood.

3. After drying their hands with a clean sterile towel, the hairdresser should cover their hands with a pair of protective plastic gloves before addressing a client's direct blood loss. This step protects both the client and the hairdresser from blood contamination.

4. The newly gloved hairdresser should provide the nicked client with styptic spray and the appropriate dressing and/or bandage to stop the flow of any blood.

Note: It's essential that any dressing be applied ONLY after the hairdresser has used the antibacterial cleansers and is covered with gloves.

5. Under no circumstances should the hairdresser allow combs, brushes, nozzles, or styptic containers to touch the broken skin or come in contact with the wound. This could lead to widespread contamination of the hairdresser's tools.

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6. While still wearing protective gloves, the hairdressing station should be thoroughly disinfected, and any implements that have been in contact with blood should be treated with a broad-spectrum disinfectant with advertised protection against hepatitis, HIV, HBV, or tuberculosis.

7. Blood-soiled items from cotton balls, salon gowns, or towels should be double bagged and officially labeled as "hazardous waste." This waste should be disposed of according to state regulations.

8. The hairdresser should remove the protective gloves and again clean their hands with antibacterial cleanser and dry with a new set of sterile towels.

9. If the cut is not severe and the flow of blood has been completely contained with a bandage, the hairdresser can resume the hair cutting service.

10. The use of any chemicals should be avoided if it is possible that they might irritate the new cut. The same applies to some types of styling products.

If your hairdresser followed all of the above steps, you were protected according to current guidelines from blood contamination. It also indicates that the hairdresser and their salon are very conscientious about preserving the safety and health of their clients.

Every Hairstylist And Salon Is Different In How They Handle Nicks

Should you have receive a free service? Every hairdresser and salon is different in how they handle this type of incident. Some hairdressers might voluntarily give you a discount on the service if the cut is serious. If the cut was minor, it's unlikely that a discount would be offered unless you ask for one or express upset.

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If the suggested steps were not followed to carefully disinfect your cut, you may wish for peace of mind to immediately contact your family health care practitioner and discuss the best course of action.

Some doctors will encourage you to come in for blood tests to make sure that you did not contact any blood borne disease.  It can take anywhere from 24 hours to longer to determine if infection has occurred.  If it did occur you are dealing with a completely different matter of serious legal nature.

While an attorney might be appropriate for severe or serious injury, if all the steps outlined above were followed, it is unlikely that you would have any legal recourse. You may be able to take a case to a small claims court, but you will have to prove the damage.

An attorney would be appropriate if you experienced severe scarring, swelling, infection, or other harmful or life-threatening side effects that permanently impact your life.

If you loved the haircut and believe that the nick was an uncommon event, you may wish to give the hairdresser another chance. Rest assured that whether you return to the hairdresser or not, you know what steps are formally recommended to protect you for the future.

If the suggested measures were not followed to carefully disinfect your cut, you may wish for peace of mind to immediately contact your family health care practitioner and discuss the best course of action.

Best wishes,

Karen Marie Shelton


By submitting your question, you grant full permission to to publish it. Due to the volume of mail we receive, Karen regrets that she cannot respond to every question personally.

To AskKaren a question, send an e-mail to: [email protected]

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