Selbyville barbershop closed after DPH discovers tattoo shop

Health department: Customers should visit a doctor

Date Published: 
Dec. 8, 2017

Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: A Selbyville barbershop was shut down last week for allegedly performing piercings and tattoos, possibly also operating without a barbershop license, and alleged grossly unsanitary conditions.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: A Selbyville barbershop was shut down last week for allegedly performing piercings and tattoos, possibly also operating without a barbershop license, and alleged grossly unsanitary conditions.State health officials said they really don’t know just how many people may have potentially been exposed to alleged unsanitary conditions at a Selbyville barbershop that was also allegedly illegally performing tattooing and body-piercing.

On Nov. 28, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) ordered closure of the B&B Barber Shop, located at 5 West Church Street, Unit 203, in downtown Selbyville. The shop was ordered to stop performing body-art activities, which were allegedly occurring without a permit, but also to close the barbershop operation for what officials called “grossly unsanitary conditions.”

The sign at that location, located in the Church Street Station shopping center, reads “Boris Barbershop.”

“In this case, the observations included evidence of a rodent infestation, improper disposal of sharps and other conditions that could contribute to transmission of disease,” said Jamie Mack, a DPH policy lead and technical advisor.

“The biggest concern in this and other body-art establishments is sterilization and cleaning of equipment. Failure to use either disposable or properly sterilized reusable equipment increases the risk for transmission of disease.”

DPH staff said they received an anonymous complaint about a week before conducting an inspection of the shop on Nov. 28, which is when they found evidence, they said, of unpermitted body-art activities.

Any customers who may have received tattooing or other body-art services at the shop are being encouraged to contact their doctors for evaluation of any disease that may have been transmitted through unsterile equipment.

“When in doubt, DPH recommends seeking testing for HIV and hepatitis. It is possible to carry these viruses for years without knowing it, due to lack of symptoms. And even if the virus cannot be traced to the closed tattoo parlor, knowing one’s HIV and hepatitis status can help get treatment and prevent further spread of these viruses,” according to DPH.

“Tell the doctor about receiving a tattoo or piercing from the unregulated establishment, when it occurred and any symptoms since the visit.”

Because the alleged unregulated tattoo parlor kept no client records, DPH staff said, they will have a tough time contacting past customers to urge them to seek medical testing, which would be the typical procedure in such situations. Instead, they’re trying to spread the word by news outlets, social media, medical providers and community leaders.

Coincidently, DPH made the announcement of the shop’s closure on World AIDS Day, which raises awareness for victims of the potentially deadly disease that is caused by HIV.

“No one should ever seek body-art services from an unpermitted business,” stated DPH Director Karyl Rattay. “Establishments regulated by DPH are inspected and must meet requirements for sanitation, proper disposal of needles, use of gloves and many other items. HIV and hepatitis can all too easily be transmitted if proper precautions are not taken.

“Before getting any kind of body art done, people should always insist on seeing the DPH permit, which is required to be posted in an obvious place.”

Delawareans served by the operation can also contact the DPH Communicable Disease Bureau at (302) 744-1050 if they have questions about potential transmission risks.

Investigation was ongoing in the case this week. When a shop doesn’t even have a permit, its operators lack an appeal route. Instead, DPH orders immediate closure. The body-art establishment must remain closed until it applies for and receives proper permits, licenses and other approvals.

Before a body-art establishment opens, it must have plumbing, electrical and fire marshal approvals. Then, the Health Systems Protection Section (HSP) inspects for compliance to the body-art regulations, including equipment disposal, sanitation of work zones, ventilation, spacing and screening for each station.

Meanwhile, “The facility and the individuals performing barbering would need to be permitted and/or licensed by the Division of Professional Regulation,” Mack said.

However, the DPR website does not list a permitted cosmetology license for a “B&B” or “Boris” barbershop.

The person in charge of the business at the time of the DPH visit was Jose Colon, officials said, adding that he received information on getting proper permits for both the body-art and barbering operations.

“The entire establishment must be thoroughly cleaned, sanitized and inspected prior to any operations at this facility,” DPH stated in a Dec. 1 letter to Colon.

Since Dec. 1, “Representatives from B&B have contacted our Office of Engineering concerning submission of plans for the body-art establishment,” Mack stated.