Can Braids Cause Folliculitis: Avoid Discomfort and Damage

We all love braids, twists, and locs. These go-to protective hairstyles are supposed to protect your hair, but sometimes they can also cause discomfort and damage.

When you make your braids too tight, it creates too much tension on your scalp. This problem can cause red bumps, white dots, and even fungal infections on your scalp. Now you may think, can braids cause folliculitis?

Unfortunately, improper installation and keeping your braids for a long time can cause folliculitis. But what exactly is scalp folliculitis? How to treat them, and how long this issue lasts? Read on to find out.

What happens when your braids are too tight?

follicles of your hair and scalp might be ruined

A really harsh truth regarding braided hairstyles is that they can leave your hair with permanent damage. Your hair might become sensitive in nature, and break or fall at worrying rates. The follicles of your hair and scalp might be ruined for good, thinning your hair strands with time, catering to the issue of losing them alarmingly.

And to decode the soring factor, the extreme force that hair strands face puts stress on the scalp’s muscles and nerves. This constant stretch eventually adds up to unbearable pain and soreness. Little bumps will form around your hairline which will hurt as well as itch. 

Traction Alopecia 

Traction alopecia direst consequences of tight braids

Traction alopecia is one of the direst consequences of tight braids, and it can contribute to cervical discomfort. It is said to settle on your head when the follicles of your hair have been severely damaged. The extent of this problem can be understood by the visible observation of bald patches on the head. 

The symptoms of traction alopecia could be consistent pain on the scalp, patches of redness while brushing or combing, etc. Some ladies try to hide this problem by installing wigs or braided extensions on their heads, but this is a gravely bad idea and not recommended at all.

What is scalp folliculitis and what are the symptoms?

scalp folliculitis

Scalp folliculitis, another serious issue, can also be influenced by constant hair braiding. It is predominantly observed on more sensitive scalps. These are basically spots of follicular pustules on the scalp, which itch and eventually feels like inflammation.

Hair on these spots tends to become weak and even fall off.

1. Hair folliculitis looks

Hair folliculitis looks

Folliculitis is a bacterial or fungal infection that causes hair damage that appears as thick, red, scaly patches on the scalp.

Whenever you notice red bumps on your scalp or small white dots, and if they itch or sting even slightly, you should begin treatment right away.

Ignoring them will lead to the problems mentioned above. And not only braiding but some other daily activities can also fuel this problem, like consuming steroids, or using too many styling products. 

2. Tight braids can cause folliculitis

Tight braids can damage the hair follicles

Tight braids can damage the hair follicles and make them more susceptible to infection, which can result in hair loss.

Finding the right balance between braids and hair health is crucial to prevent folliculitis. Folliculitis occurs when bacteria or fungi enter damaged hair follicles.

In some cases, tight braids can cause irritation to the scalp, however, other factors such as poor hygiene, underlying skin conditions, and certain medications can also contribute to the development of folliculitis.

3. braids causing bumps on scalp

braids causing bumps on scalp

A tight braid can potentially cause bumps on the scalp, particularly if worn for a prolonged period of time. This is because tight braids can pull on the hair and irritate the scalp, leading to inflammation and bumps. 

As we discussed just a few moments ago, foliculitis is the cause of those bumps. The size and volume of these bumps may vary from person to person.

If left untreated, this can lead to permanent hair and scalp damage. This will result in hair fall and cause the volume of your hair to decrease. 

Getting rid of it calls for a lot of treatment and time. Most people ignore the severity of this by deeming them as basic itching.

4. How long does folliculitis last?

Folliculitis typically lasts for a few days to a week. When left untreated, it can last up to several weeks.

The length of time it takes for folliculitis to resolve can vary depending on the underlying cause of the infection and the individual’s immune system.

5. Apart from tight braids, there are other reasons for scalp folliculitis

other reasons for scalp folliculitis
I. Wearing helmets for a long time

Due to lack of air, if you wear helmets for a prolonged period of time, your scalp sweats, and the sweat cannot evaporate. This can be a major cause of such damage.

II. Frequently scratching your scalp

Frequently scratching the scalp can cause minor skin tears. The more you scratch your scalp, the more tears and cuts will be there. Having too many of these may lead to infection in your head.

III. Using too many hair products, which can clog your follicles over time

Many hair care products contain chemicals, so using a lot of them isn’t a good idea. Applying them on your hair gives your hair a chemical treatment. And if this is done too many times, then the hair follicle may get clogged over time.

V. Weak immune system

A person’s immune system also plays a major role. If someone possesses a strong immune system, then his hair and scalp will also be more resistant to such infections and irritations and vice-versa.

VI. Long-term application of topical antibiotics

We often consume topical antibiotics for treatment and cure. However, if that is done for a prolonged period, then it is not something which favors proper hair growth and a healthy scalp. Hence, to reduce the risk of suffering from infections, one should consume as few antibiotics as possible.

VII. Being in unclean water for a long time

If you have the habit of using bath tubs and taking long showers, then make sure that the water that you are using is clean and do not contain any added chemicals such as chlorine.

6. Treatments for folliculitis from tight braids

Folliculitis is not a deadly disease. However, you should also not bear the disease lifelong. The best solution is to get in touch with a dermatologist as soon as possible. Otherwise, the damaged hair follicles can also affect the other healthy hair follicles.

It’s a skin problem that needs to be addressed in a customized manner, which is only possible by a dermatologist.

You should also check whether any medicine that you are consuming is responsible for this or not. Make sure that during hair wash, you use shampoos and other hair care products that are very mild and have very low or no harsh chemical content.

Final Words 

So you now have the answer to can braids cause folliculitis and how to treat them. Generally, you can avoid this problem by not wearing your braids tightly, following the correct installing method, maintaining proper hair care, and taking off the braids at the right time.

If you see any mentioned symptoms of scalp folliculitis and traction alopecia, don’t hesitate to visit a hair specialist and start your treatment.

By Cindy Mahlangu

Hey there! I'm Cindy Mahlangu, a pro hairstylist with a serious passion for natural hair care. My mission? To inspire and educate others on the beauty and benefits of protective hairstyles. Through my creative writing, aim to empower individuals to embrace their unique hair texture and confidently care for their locks. So, whether you're rocking locs, braids, or twists, join me on this hair journey and let's achieve healthy, fabulous tresses together!

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