Protective Styles Gone Wrong: What Happens When The Weave Is Too Tight?
by Trichologist, Dr. Kari Williams
Weaving is a popular option for most women who are making the transition from straight and relaxed styles to natural hair. It protects the hair from daily manipulation and heat styling. It also offers a look for women that resembles what they are accustomed to wearing or allows them to try out a head full of curls until their very own head full of curls are ready to be unleashed. But sometimes-protective styles can go wrong if improper techniques are used. A popular protective styling option is the weave. Unfortunately, I see many women who are suffering from severe thinning or hair loss because of a weave style. You may be wondering, “How does this happen?” There are several reasons why this happens. The most common reasons are traction alopecia and scalp infections.I discussed traction alopecia in another post and described it as self-inflicted hair loss. To refresh your memory, traction alopecia is when the hair is literally pulled out of the scalp follicle as a result of braid styles that are too tight. Although this form of hair loss is mostly seen around the hairline, many women are beginning to suffer from this type of hair loss in the center of the scalp. The pattern of braiding traditionally done for the foundation of the weave is a honeycomb shape that ends at the top of the scalp, concentrating all of the tension in that area. The sewing of the tracks onto the braids worsens the tension. Some technicians wrap the thread around the braid, literally pulling the cornrow away from the scalp. Translation- your hair is being pulled out of your head. Most women sense this discomfort and pain immediately. Some women say nothing and convince themselves that pain is beauty and that it will eventually subside within a couple of days and after a couple of Advil. Others will voice their concerns only to be hushed or ignored by their stylists. This is only the beginning of the problem.When the hair is weaved, it is very difficult to clean and treat the scalp, especially if a net is used. Lets revisit the pain of installing the weave. The pulling and traction created during this process creates scratches, scars and open wounds in the scalp. These wounds create the perfect pathway for bacteria and fungus to enter the blood stream. Consequently, fungal and bacterial infections invade the scalp and because many women ignore the symptoms of pain, incessant itching, and refuse to remove their $300 styles; after three months of dirt and bacteria accumulating on the scalp, the infection runs its course and causes permanent hair loss.I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a weave technician who is well trained. You must vocalize your concerns if you are feeling any discomfort and remove your weave immediately if you experience excessive pain or itching. Most importantly, see a dermatologist to confirm diagnosis of an infection and receive a prescription that will clear up the infection before it destroys your hair follicles. For more information or questions visit: www.drkariwlliams.comAnd don’t forget to follow Dr. Kari on Twitter @drkariwilliams and Like her Fan Page Mahogany Hair Revolution on Facebook