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‘Will My Hair Grow Back After Burning My Scalp?’

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Name: Trent

Question: I recently suffered some burns to my head for rather juvenile reasons I’d rather not get into. I lost hair in two patches, and the bigger of the two is still very tender (and hair-free). I’m assuming my hair will grow back – but will it?

Answer: Hi Trent, it’s difficult to know if your hair loss will be temporary or permanent without seeing the severity of the burn. While there’s generally a good chance of hair regrowing after it’s been scorched off in an accident, that sadly isn’t always the case.

5SOS Guitarist Michael Clifford Caught Fire on Stage at Wembley

5SOS Guitarist Michael Clifford’s Hair Caught Fire on Stage at Wembley

Famously, Michael Jackson lost a large patch of his hair in 1984 when he was filming a Pepsi commercial and a pyrotechnics accident set it on fire. Despite rapid medical treatment, he still suffered major burning on the back of his scalp and was left with a large bald patch.

Jackson turned to a well-known American surgeon known as Doc Hollywood for help, and during 80 minutes of laser surgery the doctor was able to repair his burnt scalp.

Something similar happened again just this week when a member of Australian pop band 5 Seconds Of Summer was injured on stage. Performing at Wembley Arena in London, guitarist Michael Clifford wandered into the path of a pyrotechnic where a burst of fire caught him squarely in the face.

While video footage shows the guitarist’s head engulfed in a ball of flames, the young pop star appears to have escaped relatively unharmed, and though he ended the show early, he was back in action for the following night’s performance. Luckily, he seems to have escaped serious injury.

In more serious fires, however, badly burnt skin on the head can result in hair-producing follicles becoming permanently destroyed. Previously healthy follicles are replaced by scar tissue, from which no new hair will grow, either naturally or through the use of hair loss treatments. This is a condition known as cicatricial alopecia or scarring alopecia.

Oscar Pistorius Displays Signs of Stress-Related Hair Loss During Murder TrialIn many cases, though, burns to the head are relatively minor and the scalp makes a full recovery. When it does, follicles typically begin producing hair again. Hair regrowth usually occurs once the scalp has healed, this usually means within three months. Lack of regrowth, especially a year after the incident, confirms scarring hence, the hair will not regrow.

But just to give you a full picture, it’s also worth knowing that the shock of trauma – and yes, losing your hair in a fire definitely counts! – can lead to Alopecia Areata. This is characterised by sudden patchy loss of hair – from anywhere on the head, not just where you were burned. It is mainly caused by follicles suddenly and prematurely entering the telogen (resting) phase, and whilst the precise causes are unknown, sudden and extreme stress is widely accepted as a trigger.

Though hair normally grows back of its own accord within six months, in some instances the hair’s pigmentation may continue to show signs of stress, with the resultant regrowth appearing white. Pictures of Oscar Pistorius at his trial last year showed distinct white patches thought to be where the former athlete’s hair had regrown after stress-induced Alopecia Areata. The regrowth is actually unpigmented, hence it looks white, but should regain pigmentation after a few hair growth cycles.

It makes sense to see both your GP and a hair loss specialist with regards your particular condition – and the sooner the better. You want to give yourself the best possible chance of regaining a healthy scalp as soon as you can.


circ The Belgravia Centre City of London Hair Loss Treatment ClinicThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


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10 Comments

31st August, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Filsan

Hi my name is Filsan. my brother got burned his on his head when he was 9 months but now is 16 years old and need to get his hair back we could not do before because we were advice not to do anything until he is 16. What can you do for him. We need advice and treatment. Thanks

31st August, 2016 at 1:06 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Filsan, Unfortunately it is very likely that his hair follicles were destroyed when he was burnt and have now scarred over. This is known as scarring alopecia or cicatricial alopecia and cannot be treated. As hair loss treatment works by stimulating the follicles, this will not be suitable or effective for your brother. In cases of cicatricial alopecia it is probably more worthwhile to contact a reputable hair transplant specialist. Sometimes this is an option for those who have lost hair to scarring, depending on the extent of the scalp damage and donor hair available. If convenient, your brother is very welcome to have a free hair loss consultation so that our experts can diagnose him then, should he decide to explore hair restoration surgery, we can refer him to our hair transplant partner.

10th October, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Asif

Sir i am 21 years boy. I lost my 50% hairs in fire accident. Doctor adviced me that you will be able to get ur hair back. because my hair plates are burned completely. What should I do. Thanks.

11th October, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Asif, one of our senior hair loss specialists has answered your query over on our blog.

26th October, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Javier Marquez

My hair burn occured in a doctors office when I was misstaken for another patient.The tech. left a burn on my scalp about 4 inches long and 2 more on the top head of my head. My loss of hair has been gradual and continuous over the past year Is there any hope of any recovery?

28th October, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Javier, please find a full response to your query. We recommend you have someone assess your scalp as - as you will see - there are a number of possibilities as to what is causing your hair loss so we cannot provide you with an accurate diagnosis from the information you have provided here.

17th January, 2017 at 2:06 am

someone

Hi. My cousin was around 2 when her head got burned from boiling oil. Her scalp got destroyed and there is a huge bald patch in the middle of her head. It can be covered up by tying her hair. Do you think there''s a chance of full hair growth? She's 18 now and tiny hair follicles have grown but it has been 16 years and that's all that has happened.

17th January, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi there, unfortunately it's unlikely as in cases such as this the result is often permanent due to scarring alopecia. There are treatments being developed that may potentially help this type of hair loss in the future but now and most likely for the next few years there are no effective means of treating hair loss where scar tissue is involved.

4th February, 2017 at 11:19 am

Emme

My hair caught on fire when inadvertently the side of my head got too close to a candle. My scalp feels a bit sore though I have no redness, just a burning sensatio. A good amount of my hair burned off, down to maybe 1/4 inch. Should I expect my hair to grow back? I'm a bit sad because I had very long healthy, thick hair. Now, It's noticeable that the volume is significantly less.

6th February, 2017 at 11:05 am

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Emme, did you see your doctor yet regarding the burning sensation? If your scalp was not burned, which it sounds like it wasn't from what you say here, then your hair should regrow naturally.

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