January 25, 2018

We often talk about damaged hair. What does it mean? How it happens? How it reflects on our hair? How to prevent and what is the treatment?

Structural damage of hair could be genetic or acquired. Here we are discussing about acquiring structural damage of hair due to factors like UV rays, salt water, chlorinated water, wind, pollution, hair dryer, hot combing, hot straightening, Excessive and wrong brushing, Hair styling gel and other chemicals, dye, bleaching, berming etc.

These factors can damage hair in many ways. Hair damage first involves the cuticle by stripping it, then loss of cuticular cell expose cortex which cause further damage. They either strip the cuticle or longitudinally splitting the cuticle or fray the cortex or even fracture the hair partially or completely or even sometimes filled with air bubbles. The end result may be reported in many ways like split end, frizzy hair, dry and brittle hair.

Lets study different type of damage of Hair by Physical, Chemical and Heat.

Split End or Trichoptilosis - Split end or Trichoptilosis is one of the acquired structural abnormalities of the hair shaft, defined as a longitudinal splitting or fraying of the distal end of the hair. Under the microscope they show that these longitudinal distal end splits divide a single hair shaft into three to seven portions. they usually involve 2 to 3 cm of distal end of the hair. It results from the cumulative effects of chemical and physical trauma and can be produced experimentally by vigorous brushing of normal hair. it is observed in some cases that even a single application of hair gel can produce split end. in one study on 49 females who dyed their hair three times with standard hair colour in last six months, split end was found in 2% of them. excessive use of ketoconazole shampoo also causes split end.

Bubbly Hair - Do you know what happen when you use a flat iron or curling iron on wet hair? heat can vaporise the water in the hair, causing bubbles to form inside the hair fiber, leads to weakening of hair. Have you ever thought that using a hair dryer on wet hair can fill your hair with air bubble and make it brittle and weak. Yes bubble hair is an acquired hair shaft deformity. When seen under light microscope bubble like area is seen in the hair shaft. While seeing with a scanning electron microscope corresponding cavitary defects is visible in such cases.
Sometimes It is associated with other acquired hair shaft defects such as Trichorrhexis nodosa and split end. Bubbly hair is a sign of thermal injury. Use of hair dryers at 175°C or more may cause bubbles hair. The use of hair curling tongs at 125°C and operated for one minute can also induce bubbles. All hair fibers have air-filled spaces called vacuoles. when hair is wet these vacuoles can also become filled with water. if heat is applied the water in the hair fibre vaporise into steam. This vaporization of the water forces the vacuoles to expand, eventually converting the hair into a sponge-like structure. These bubble hairs become weak and brittle as the bubbles destroy the integrity of the cortex. Chemical treatment also causes bubble hair. Congenital weak hair or acquired weak hair by any other means are more vulnerable to bubble development. Appearance of bubble hair- kinked and gradually develop into a localized alopecia. Hair texture change from soft and naturally curly to straight and stiff. It can be prevented and treated by careful avoidance of heating instruments and chemicals on the hair and by cutting off the old damaged hair.

Trichorrhexis Nodosa - Some times hair respond to physical and chemical trauma like excessive brushing, back combing, stressed hairstyles, the application of heat, and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, Head rolling and banging, trichotillomania; and the scratching and pulling associated with seborrheic dermatitis, Chemical traumas include excessive exposure to salt water, shampooing, setting, perming, bleaching, and dyeing of hair damage hair in this peculiar way by forming nodes along the hair shaft. These white coloured nodes, which are found on regular interval along the whole length of hair makes the hair weak through which breakage occurs easily. This is also most common congenital anomaly of hair. Trichorrhexis nodosa may also occur due to malnutrition or endocrinopathy, especially iron deficiency and hypothyroidism. These nodes represent areas of curricular cell disruption, which allows the underlying cortical fibers to separate and fray. The cortical fibers splay outwards and fracture, giving the node the microscopic appearance of 2 brooms or paint brushes thrust together end to end by their bristles. Complete breakage often occurs at these nodes. The fractured hairs are found mainly on the scalp, but they also may involve body or pubic hair. In one study Trichorrhexis nodosa incident was seen in 34.7% dying female, 40%, while perming and 17.4% female going for the ironing of hair. These multiple white nodes, which are found on regular interval along the whole length of hair is areas of curricular cell disruption, which allows the underlying cortical fibers to separate and fray. The cortical keratin fibers splay outwards and fracture. Light microscopic view of node gives appearance of 2 brooms or paint brushes attach together end to end by their bristles. Complete breakage often occurs at these points. Trichoclasis- its a kind of hair fracture called a green stick fracture. It is a transverse fracture splinted by an intact cuticle. There in no constant abnormality of the cuticle or cortex. It is seen in normal hair where vigorous grooming stresses the fiber to such an extent that the hair suddenly snaps and breaks off. It is common to see some trichoclasis as a result of trichotillomania (obsessive hair plucking). Treatment for trichoclasis involves reducing the physical manipulation of the hair and the recommendation of less vigor in brushing or combing.

Trichoschisis including Trichothiodystrophy - This is a condition where hair has clean transverse break across the hair shaft. it occurs due to absence of hair shaft cuticle in the affected area.


Different people present this situation as their predominant feature. Some call it split ends, some frizzy hair, some dry, brittle, weak hair and some as damaged hair. Actually, these are signs of damaged hair.


Prevention is better than cure, so behaviour modification is a more permanent solution. Patients should avoid physical and chemical trauma to the hair shaft.


TRIMMING - Trimming is a temporary solution for split hair.
Acquired hair shaft damage is reversible when one avoids physical and chemical trauma. Complete resolution depending on the growth of new anagen hairs. It may be 3 to 5 years. treatment is aimed at minimizing physical or chemical trauma. Excessive brushing, hot combing, permanent waving, and other harsh hair treatments should be avoided. Underlying metabolic disorders are treated accordingly, usually through the implementation of a specifically tailored diet.
High protein balanced diet and management of good health is helpful. Overnight oiling without massage is also helpful as it increases the speed of growth of hair.

Before starting any Treatment contact your Dermatologist.


There are products which may be applied to the split end tips or frizzy part, but their action is purely cosmetic; They draw the splayed fibres together, making the ends look less ragged. No actual mechanical repair occurs. Splaying of this type largely occurs at the ends of the hair because this is the oldest part of the hair shaft and has been

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *