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Headphones are useful for listening to music, gaming, or keeping video noises to yourself. However, many fear that wearing headphones too often will cause hair damage and loss.
Wearing headphones or a headset occasionally and casually will not cause any serious hair damage. However, frequent and excessive headset use every day can cause traction alopecia, which is hair loss due to consistent friction or pulling on the roots.
So what types of headphones cause damage? When do you need to start worrying? How do you avoid hair loss? Here is everything you need to know about headphones and hair loss.
What Types of Headphones Cause Damage?
Headphones in the traditional style can cause hair damage when used to the extreme. This style includes a tight band fitted over the head and two speakers that go over each ear. Headphones that do not have adjustable bands are more likely to cause damage.
Many people chose to wear their headphone bands behind their head, or over their neck, which can reduce the risk of hair damage or loss, but this way may not be practical for musicians, who need the band to be tightly fitted to their head.
Earphones, which go directly in the ear, do not directly interact with the hair and therefore pose no risk for hair loss. Headphones with adjustable bands are also less likely to cause hair loss and damage.
Although headphones with a nonadjustable band are more likely to cause damage, it is important to note that, in general, the chances of them causing serious damage are minimal and they only pose a real risk when they are constantly worn.
How Often Can I Wear my Headphones without Causing Damage?
There is no set threshold for the amount of time wearing headphones will cause hair loss. However, if you wear your headphones for several hours every single day, you increase your risk for hair loss through traction alopecia.
Gamers who spend several hours playing their games with tightly-fitted headsets have reported irritation along their scalp and hair loss due to traction alopecia caused by these headsets.
When writing this article, I consulted a Reddit group of gamers about their headphone usage, and the majority of them reported gaming for at least 4 hours a day with headsets. Among those who wore headsets, 90% of them said that they had never experienced any difficulties or complications due to hair loss because of their headphones, despite wearing them for several hours a day. Therefore, the chances of hair loss due to headphones seem very low, and the risk is not enough for the casual headphone user to worry about.
Do I need to stop wearing my Headphones?
The short answer is no. As long as you are not abusing your headphones or wearing them constantly, you do not need to worry about possible hair loss. You can safely listen to music through your headphones without having to stress about going bald.
What is Traction Alopecia?
Traction Alopecia is hair loss that is caused by repeated pulling on the hair. The most common way that this is seen is damaged hair as the result of consistently pulling it up in a tight ponytail or bun. Other possible causes include tight hats or headbands, elastics in the hair, and (as mentioned above) consistent headphone use.
Signs and Symptoms:
The earliest signs of traction alopecia are little red dots on the scalp that look like pimples. As the condition worsens, you can identify it by missing and broken hairs along the scalp. The most common area of hair loss is toward the front of the forehead, but traction alopecia can occur anywhere on the scalp.
Aside from hair loss, traction alopecia can also cause:
- Redness on the scalp
- Stinging or itchiness
- Scaling of the scalp
- Inflammation of hair follicles
- Blisters filled with puss on the scalp
Traction alopecia is not technically a medical condition, but it can be very detrimental and damaging, not only to the hair but to the scalp as well. Headphones that are consistently worn can pull on the roots of the hair and can cause damage through traction alopecia. If you are prone to this. condition, you may want to consider using earbuds or a gentler type of headphones.
How to Avoid Traction Alopecia
Traction Alopecia can be avoided fairly easily by wearing earbuds instead of headphones, choosing headphones that fit around the head more loosely, or by wearing the headphone band around the neck or back of the head. It is also a good idea to reduce headphone use in general. Wearing headphones is okay every once in a while, but if you are wearing them enough to irritate your hair and scalp, it is a good sign that you need to reduce your usage.
Other methods to reduce traction alopecia include changing hairstyles, such as avoiding tight ponytails or braids and wearing your hair down. Reducing heat or cutting your hair shorter can be helpful because there will be less irritation to the scalp. You should also avoid inflexible headbands, or tight-fitting hats and hairpieces.
Remedies for Hair loss and Traction Alopecia
If you notice signs and symptoms of traction alopecia, you should see a dermatologist as soon as possible. Dermatologists will be able to assess the damage and provide remedies for relief and healing.
Doctors may prescribe several different remedies to help with traction alopecia that include:
- Antibiotics, which can help prevent infections and can treat open sores
- Topical steriods to help with inflammation and swelling
- Topical minioxidal, which is an over the counter prescription medicine that promotes hair growth
- Antifungal shampoos to reduce irritation
- Biotin supplements to help promote hair regrowth.
These treatments, especially the treatments for hair growth, can take several months to be fully effective. There is no immediate cure that will make the traction alopecia go away, nor is there a magical hair growth pill that you can take that will immediately bring your hair back. But with patience and diligence, your hair and scalp can return to normal.
After you have been given treatments for traction alopecia, you should do your best to avoid things that can irritate your hair or scalp. This includes wearing your hair down, avoiding tight-fitting hats, and avoiding wearing headphones until the inflammation is reduced.