Author Bio: Dr. Sanusi Umar MD is the author of this article.
Claiming the barber “Did it” is akin to the “Butler did it” trope. Since the 1800s, barbers have been in the middle of medical controversy as they were once involved in a variety of medical procedures such as blood-letting, pulling teeth, minor surgeries, and amputation. Today, barbers are at the forefront of finger-pointing when it comes to AKN – Acne Keloidalis Nuchae – as they are constantly blamed for unhygienic conditions. Although there is general agreement that close shaving and hairline carving can precipitate, initiate and aggravate the condition, it is more a problem in patients who are already predisposed to AKN. The type of tool used or technique is not an issue, but the simple fact that a short hair cut was performed is. Be it by the barber or as is often the case the patient himself, it does not matter who performs the haircut.
Unfortunately for the barber, because of the coincidence of the onset of lesions and a close shave, affected individuals naturally attribute AKN to the barber doing something wrong; perhaps from using unclean tools. This theory becomes strengthened by the unsightly appearance and pus discharge which evokes conclusions of an infection (which it is typically not), and the natural attempt to link it to the use of unclean utensils by the scapegoats – the barbers of course!
In the UK where (unlike the USA) barbing does not appear to require licensing, there is the tendency to quickly judge them as the responsible culprits for AKN. Why it must be the fault of these unlicensed unclean barbers! When in actuality, it isn’t…
There are other good arguments for licensing barbers such as prevention of communicable diseases, e.g. hepatitis, HIV, etc. AKN just isn’t one of those. Open sores in AKN can promote the transmission of other diseases, however.
What exactly is AKN?
AKN are tough bumps, pimples, and keloids that form around the hair follicles in the back of the head and neck. Sometimes it may just look like a simple razor rash. Aside from its cosmetic appearance, AKN can be painful and itchy. In more severe stages a clear, pus or bloody discharge may start to leak from the affected areas. As the condition progresses, the bumps enlarge and mold together. Patients with severe cases of acne keloidalis risk developing alopecia or irreversible hair loss with scarring. Even though the direct cause is unknown, men with darker skin – primarily those of African descent – are at risk of developing it.
What can be done?
On the battlefront of AKN, barbers can be counted on as allies instead of foes. Your barber and hair stylists are often the first to notice problems of the scalp, be it the earliest signs of hair loss to dandruff. Well, the same goes for AKN. By educating hair professionals to recognize the earliest signs of AKN, they could play a critical role in nipping its progression in the bud – by not only discontinuing short haircuts and hairline carving but in advising the patient against doing so himself or allowing others to do it on him. They can also recommend patients to seek early intervention by dermatologists specializing in AKN treatment.
If you are interested in consulting Dr U for your Acne Keloidalis Nuchae (AKN), please fill out this form with as much detail as possible: Free Online consultation form for AKN with Dr U