EXCLUSIVE: Can head washing in parlour lead to DEATH? Know all about beauty parlour stroke syndrome


Do you love getting head washes at beauty parlours? Those caring pair of hands massaging your head with luxurious smelling shampoos – what’s not to love, especially that the winter months are knocking on our doors, and washing our hair at home is a “chilly” option, literally! But while head washes at parlours can be relaxing, the hyperextension of the neck that comes with washing our hair at washbasins can lead to quite a serious condition, often known as beauty parlour stroke syndrome.

Recently, Dr Sudhir Kumar, a neurologist from Hyderabad, tweeted about beauty parlour stroke syndrome, saying, “I recently saw a 50-year old woman with symptoms of dizziness, nausea & vomiting, which started during her hair wash with shampoo in a beauty parlour. Initially, she was taken to a gastroenterologist, who treated her symptomatically.” He went on to add that her symptoms did not improve, and she was eventually diagnosed with beauty parlour stroke syndrome. Check out his tweet below:

 

 

We spoke to Dr Kaustubh Mahajan, Consultant Neurologist, SL Raheja Hospital – A Fortis Associate, to talk about beauty parlour stroke syndrome, its causes, symptoms, prevention and most importantly – if it’s fatal.

Also read: BEWARE of warning signs! Make THESE lifestyle changes to avoid a stroke

What is beauty parlour stroke syndrome?

Dr Kaustubh Mahajan says, “First we have to understand what happens in a stroke. A part of the brain does not receive oxygen and therefore, the body part that’s under control of that brain part does not get oxygen and suffers damage.” When there’s a hyperextension of the neck – which happens when our heads are turned backwards for hair wash – part of the circulation of oxygen in the brain gets altered. “In predisposed individuals – individuals with narrow arteries in the neck that supply oxygen to the posterior part of the brain – there are warning signs like dizziness, imbalance, visual blurring, after hyperextension of the neck (that is after something like head washing in the parlour where you extend your neck backwards). If that happens, a person must show a doctor, preferably a neurologist.” 

Beauty parlour stroke syndrome: Causes and symptoms

Not everyone will show symptoms. People with narrow neck arteries that supply oxygen to the posterior part of the brain are predisposed individuals. If they have beauty parlour stroke, symptoms include confusion, drowsiness, speech problems, dizziness, imbalance, and not paralysis-like syndromes that are usual in stroke, says Dr Mahajan. 

So why do people have narrow arteries? This can be for two reasons, says Dr Mahajan. “One is modifiable risk factors, which include diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol. People with these issues can have narrow arteries,” he said. Another reason is non-modifiable factors. “Age and genetic factors can be clubbed into this. However, if you have narrow arteries by birth, the brain finds other collateral arteries to transport oxygen. The problem arises when these arteries also start narrowing down.”

Beauty parlour stroke syndrome: Dos and Don’ts

So should everyone stop washing hair in parlours? No, not necessarily, says Dr Mahajan. However, if you show these symptoms – dizziness, imbalance, blurred vision – following hyperextension of the neck, then you should visit a neurologist to get yourself checked and if you have narrow arteries. “So awareness is key,” says Dr Mahajan. The next thing one must do, says the doctor, is to ensure that other arteries, the collateral ones, are also not narrowing down, thus ensuring an adequate supply of oxygen to the brain. “For this, you have to follow the usual drill – do enough exercise, have a healthy diet and identify blood sugar and hypertension problems, and if you have them, treat them,” says Dr Mahajan. If you are aware of this syndrome, people will know that they have to go to a doctor if they show symptoms following hyperextension of the neck. “If identified and treated on time, full-blown stroke can be avoided in future. So do NOT ignore the symptoms,” says Dr Mahajan.

The Age factor

Age is one non-modifiable factor. With age, comes Atherosclerosis where there is a buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls. This buildup is called plaque, which might lead arteries to narrow down, blocking blood flow, says Dr Mahajan.

Is Beauty parlour stroke syndrome fatal?

Dr Mahajan says that if the factors are identified and treated on time, it may prevent complications. But if the brain is deprived of oxygen for long, and if you are a predisposed individual, a stroke may follow, which is sudden. “If you show symptoms while at the parlour, immediately stop neck’s hyperextension and lie down. The gravity will allow blood circulation to improve. If there are warning signs, do visit a doctor,” says Dr Mahajan. Also, doctors advise keeping a rolled towel at the nape of the neck to reduce elevation during the head wash.

 





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