Can we negate the damage that has already been done?

Most of the equipment used in hairdressing and cosmetics industry are typically generating noise levels above the allowable limit (85 decibels) at workplace. Major sources of noise exposure in the surrounding magnificence beauty or cosmetic industry, comprises the use of hair dryers or hand held hair dryers; electric massagers, electric shavers, hair clippers, blow dryers, cosmetics and tattoo equipment, body massagers, electric nail flies and drills. Since, the noise arising due to the use of this equipment (especially hair dryers, blowers and drillers) generally falls around 90-95 decibels, therefore, professionals are at greater risk and need to follow precautionary measures to minimize the exposure to the damaging noises. Under the Noise at Work Regulations 2005, employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers’ hearing is not damaged by a noisy workplace. The effects of such a noisy environment become visible within a period of 5-10 years, a common observation reported among hair stylists, in the typically noisy beauty salons. Several case studies have documented the presence of partial impairment or complete hearing loss among hair stylists and hairdressers. Clinical studies suggest that loss of hearing not only affects the ability to communicate, but also has a profound effect on mental status, social behavior and people’s lives. Such loss not only impacts on personal but also professional as well as career advancement.
Apart from sound induced hearing loss, ototoxicity also plays an important role in bringing about hearing loss among hairstylists. Ototoxicity is generally referred to internal damage to the ear, particularly the cochlea or
auditory nerve by certain chemicals such as the antibiotics, aminoglycoside and potassium or sodium bromate. For decades, potassium or sodium bromate (2-10%) and thioglycolates were routinely used as perm lotion and hair neutralizer. Principally, curly hair is chemically softened using an ammonium thioglycolate hair wave lotion or cream to change or reduce the disulfide (S-S) bonds of hair keratins to S-H bonds and thus reduce the natural curl and makes hair flexible. Secondly, 2-10% of potassium bromide solution KBrO3 oxidizes the S-H bonds and regains the original S-S bonds to the hair and thereby stabilizes the curling of the hair. The reported toxic effects of potassium bromate and sodium bromate include diarrhea, hearing loss, peripheral neuropathy, hemolytic anaemia, vomiting, and acute renal failure. The most common symptom of bromated intoxication is deafness, which seems to be almost permanent. Studies have shown that cochlea appears to be the primary site of injury for bromate-induced ototoxicity. However, other possible targets include nerve and central auditory system. Research studies performed using animal models suggest that bromate damages the claudius and inner sulcus cells, stria vascularis, reissner’s membrane, inner and outer hair cells in the cochlea. At physiological level, these chemicals lower the cochlear microphonics, endocochlear potential, and electrophysiologic auditory thresholds. Several clinical investigations and case studies report complains of dizziness, vertigo, and hearing loss among hairstylists and hairdressers. It has been observed that in most of the cases, the professionals are continuously exposed (for more than 10 years) to the permanent hair styling solutions or neutralizers containing thioglycolate and potassium or sodium bromate. Besides this, infrequent reports of high-dose ingestion are also detected in many clinical populations, where symptoms onset is generally seen very rapidly that occur within 4–16 hrs.

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