It is very old.
To quote -
';The barber pole It is the oldest distinguished mark of any profession or craft, dating back before the birth of Christ. History tells us that barber service was rendered to the public 6,000 years before. The art of hair and beard trimming (barbering), medicine (herbs), dentistry (tooth pulling) and surgery (blood letting) were all performed by the same operators in the early history; they were called BARBER SURGEONS. Due to the services that they rendered and especially to the royalty, the barber-surgeons were the most respected and protected men living. They held this respect for thousands of years.
During their practice of surgery, which consisted only of blood letting or bleeding the disease, a white cloth was used. They would rinse this out leaving blood stains, hang it in the door-way of their business to dry: thus, the origin of our present day barber pole. As the years passed by the hundreds, this original badge has been changed to the present, attractive glass red and white emblem which represents professional grooming service. The doctors, the dentists and the surgeons have all branched from our original profession long since; however, the barber pole still remains the property of the artistic barbering profession.';How did the ';Barber's Pole'; come to be?
Originally the barber did more. They pulled teeth, did small operations and was more of a GP.
The red and white pole represent the gauze (or cotton) and the blood.
The blue was added to make it more ';American';
The origin of the barber pole is associated with the service of bloodletting. During medieval times, barbers also performed surgery on customers. The original pole had a brass basin at the top (representing the vessel in which leeches were kept) and bottom (representing the basin which received the blood). The pole itself represents the staff that the patient gripped during the procedure to encourage blood flow.
The red and white stripes symbolize the bandages used during the procedure: red for the blood-stained and white for the clean bandages. Originally, these bandages were hung out on the pole to dry after washing. As the bandages blew in the wind, they would twist together to form the spiral pattern similar to the stripes in the modern day barber pole. The barber pole became emblematic of the barber/surgeon's profession. Later the cloths were replaced by a painted wooden pole of red and white stripes.