The simple answer is yes: scratching can and will lead to hair loss. You should completely avoid scratching.
According to Medical News Today, "Studies have shown that with only 90 minutes of continuous scratching by the fingernails, it is possible to remove all of the cuticular scale, a protective covering on individual hairs, off of a hair shaft. This loss leaves the hair shaft weakened and permanently damaged, making it easily susceptible to breakage and hair loss."
Excessive scratching could also lead to a form of traction alopecia. This is a condition in which hair is gradually lost due to excessive pulling. You are at risk of developing traction alopecia if:
Seriously guys, after reading up on this I have loosened up my headscarf because I put it on so tightly that it hurts around my head. I am restricting the blood flow to my scalp and circulation is very necessary for hair growth.
The likelihood of scratching is especially high if you have a scalp condition e.g. scalp psoriasis. Such conditions may make your scalp itchy so you naturally feel the urge to scratch more often than someone who doesn't have an existing skin condition.
What should you do if you have excessive itchiness?
1. Pat or rub with the flats of your finger, don't scratch.
2. A dry scalp will exacerbate itchiness. Wash your hair and place peppermint oil in either your shampoo or condition. I wrote about this extensively in my blog on "Neno Natural's foolproof anti-itch hair wash". I have used my anti-itch formula several times and it works every single time.
3. Consider whether one of your products is causing the itchiness and stop using it.
4. Stop thinking about scratching or how itchy your scalp is. The more you think about it, the more you'll want to scratch.
The good news: hair lost due to scratching is not permanent and a brand new hair follicle will replace the lost one.
The bad news: you need to stop scratching otherwise you will lose more hair.
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Humectants or hygroscopic substances or hydrophilic substances attract and retain moisture from the air. They are often used in hair products to keep hair moisturised.
Glycerine is a particularly strong humectant; when the weather is very dry such that there isn't enough water in the general environment, glycerin can compensate for this by actually taking much needed moisture out of your hair and therefore drying it out!
I have failed to find any reference suggesting that other humectants dry hair out if the hair is the only source of moisture. That said, if it is very dry outside in winter or summer I would use humectants much more sparingly!
Overall, I am going to deduce that this feature of drying hair out may be unique to glycerine because if you left a jar of honey open, it would not become dilute where as a key characteristic of glycerine is that if left in an open unsealed jar or container it would continue too attract water molecules until it contained 20% water!
That said, note that different types of hair respond differently to the application of humectants. Read the following chain on longhaircommunity.com for other opinons:
A regular rinse with sage and rosemary water will promote thicker, stronger, shinier hair. It's also useful as an antidote for hair loss.
Sage restores hair's natural color and prevents premature greying. Rosemary is also great for reducing the rate at which hair greys.
It's not practical to use rosemary essential oil in this recipe because for a 2% dilution you would need 20 ml of rosemary and that would be very costly indeed. If you can't find fresh rosemary the dried version is a decent alternative.
You might also like:
Get your FREE ebook on How To Grow Long, Healthy Natural Kinky or Curly Hair.
Rosemary is one of the key ingredients in Neno Natural's Hair Growth Stimulator.
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By Heather Katsonga-Woodward
I was a natural hair blogger and mixtress living between London & Chicago from 2012 to 2017. I always thought I was 4C but some say 4B; images below - you decide! Heather xx