A barber may develop a pilonidal sinus in the interdigital space of the hand (so called "barber's disease").


Mechanism: Small fragments of recently cut hair are mechanically driven into the skin between the fingers. The hairs should have a sharp edge and be relatively stiff.


Clinical findings:

(1) The presence of a chronic abscess or draining sinus in the interdigital space.

(2) Biopsy shows hair shafts with a foreign body type giant cell reaction.

(3) The sinus may become infected with Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas species or other forms of bacteria.



• The condition is more common in hairdressers who cut men's hair since it tends to be stiffer than women's hair.

• The condition has not been reported in women. This may be due to a matter of exposure (more males cut male hair), technique (especially in the use of scissors) or the size of hair fragments.

• About 60% of the cases listed by Patel et al involved the right hand. The handedness of the barber was not recorded.


A similar condition caused by animal hair can be found in:

(1) sheep shearers

(2) cow milkers


Differential diagnosis:

(1) other types of foreign body type granulomas (wood splinter's etc)


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