Health Watch -- Hair Hazards

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Is today's hot hairstyle worth losing your hair for?

Women do all kinds of things to make their hair look fabulous - rolling it in curlers, using heat or chemicals to make it straight, or pulling it back into ponytails or buns. Dermatologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say these methods may make you look great today, but they could lead to long-term hair loss.

Dr. Amit Pandya, a UT Southwestern dermatologist, says anything that pulls hair tight, like rollers, ponytail holders or other hair accessories, puts stress on the hair roots. Over time, hair will stop growing from those stressed roots, especially around the edges of the hairline.

Meanwhile, straightening hair using heat or chemicals damages the hair, weakening the hair structure. That makes hair more likely to break in the middle of the hair shaft.

If you want to keep you hair and keep it healthy, don't be a slave to fashion. You can still treat your hair when you want to look a special way for a special occasion, but give your hair a rest at other times. Curl or straighten your hair less frequently so it will be less stressed. Don't wear styles that pull your hair tightly very often or for long periods of time.

A looser, more natural style may not always be in fashion, but it will help you hang onto your hair. Healthy hair will make you look better, no matter what's in style.


Feb. 2004