For proof of the ubiquity of hair ties, you’ve only to ask any long-haired colleagues to show you their wrists: if their hairband is not holding back their locks, you’re likely to find it cosied up next to their watch. But what many don’t realise is that hair ties are a factor in many cases of hair loss, as well as having the potential to harbour various potentially infectious bacteria.
Damaging to the hair
The most common way in which hair bands can cause damage is when the tie itself is made of a material that is unkind to the hair. Think of abrasive bands that tangle rather than glide over the shaft, or – worst of all – a plain, old-fashioned rubber band. When worn frequently and tied tightly, it can snap strands of hair, causing what hair loss specialists call “hair breakage“. While this isn’t actually a hair loss condition as it does not affect the follicle, it can make hair look thin and frizzy as it snaps along the shaft leaving split ends behind.
The second most common way in which hairbands lead to trouble is when tight ponytails, buns or bunches cause pulling on the hair follicle. This can lead to a condition called Traction Alopecia, an oft-seen complaint from people who regularly opt for taut high ponytails or buns, tightly braided styles or wear hair extensions.
Though stubborn to treat, given the tension tends to affect the hairline, people can respond well to treatment for Traction Alopecia. Following a professional diagnosis by a hair loss specialist, a bespoke course featuring high strength minoxidil to apply to the affected areas, and advice on further preventative measures such as which hairstyles to avoid during the regrowth process, can be provided. By following this type of plan and advice, many Belgravia clients who have been losing their hair to Traction Alopecia are able to regrow what they’ve lost and we have seen a considerable number of regrowth Success Stories.
The key is to seek help as early as possible as the longer the weight and tension is left to disturb the follicles, the more damaged they will become. This can not only reduce the likelihood of seeing successful results from treatment but may lead to irreparable baldness.
The third way hair elastics can lead to hair loss is more dramatic.
The dangers of viral infections from hair bands was highlighted in the Daily Mail just last month when an American woman named Audree Kopp ended up having surgery on her arm after a glittery hair tie that she had been wearing on her wrist caused scratching and led to an infection.
Doctors discovered her swollen arm was infected with three types of bacteria and told her that she had been lucky to have avoided sepsis, which can be fatal.
Trauma and sudden shock can lead, in some cases, to Alopecia Areata, a not-uncommon autoimmune disorder which leads to patchy hair loss of the scalp. The condition has multiple triggers, including physical trauma, local skin injuries and a bacterial infection. In most cases the hair will grow back naturally over time but treatment for Alopecia Areata can help to encourage regrowth.
Telogen Effluvium – a temporary hair loss condition which leads to a more diffuse thinning of the hair from all over the scalp – can also be caused by an underlying illness, severe stress, or following an operation. This generally lasts no longer than 12 months and, whilst treatment is possible, the hair will usually regrow naturally once the trigger issue has been dealt with or passed.
Gap in the market
Recognising the popularity of hair bands and spotting a gap in the market, a company called Maria Shireen recently launched a range of bracelets named BitterSweet designed with a groove feature which allow wearers to store their hair band on top of the bracelet, thus keeping it away from the skin. Widely reported in the style press as a ‘hero product’, one Metro newspaper writer joked that “one of the greatest problems in all of womanhood has finally been solved.”
Whilst this is a stylish way to avoid any skin infections, sadly it won’t help to combat any damage done to your hair by regularly securing it in tight hairstyles. If you are guilty of this style crime and are concerned by thinning hair or patchy hair loss as a result, all is not lost.
The first course of action is to start wearing your hair as freely as possible, followed by a quick visit to a hair loss specialist. As with most things, an early diagnosis and appropriate treatment is the best solution.
The 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.