Can Having Your Hair Washed At A Salon Cause A Stroke? Doctors Discuss Risks Of ‘Beauty Parlor Stroke’

While many women look to the salon for a luxurious day of pampering, doctors say there is a little-known risk associated with a common salon practice: hair washing. A mother of two, Elizabeth Smith, said she was unaware of the risk of having her hair washed at a salon until her life-changing experience in January of 2014. The mother had what doctors refer to as “beauty parlor stroke syndrome” after having her hair washed in a standard beauty salon basin. Now the mother is speaking out to let others know about the risks and proper prevention methods.

Beauty Parlor risks

Buzzfeed reports that mother-of-two Elizabeth Smith went to the Blowbunny: Blow Dry & Hair Extension Bar in San Diego in January of 2014 and had her hair washed by her hairstylist. However, just eight days after the wash, she began having strange symptoms. Smith says she began to have weakness in her left leg and arm and that eventually she was unable to stand. She went to the doctor and was told that she was experiencing a rare condition known as “beauty parlor stroke.”

“I had weakness in my left arm and leg. I just didn’t feel right. I was standing up to point, and I couldn’t stand. But by the time the paramedics had arrived, my symptoms had resolved.”

So what exactly is beauty parlor stroke? According to Women’s Health Magazine, beauty parlor stroke is a condition noted by doctors that occurs when the neck is hyperextended, causing the arteries in the neck to be cut or torn which can result in a stroke as a blood clot forms and travels to the brain. While the idea of a shampoo job at a salon causing a stroke seems like something out of science fiction, there have been enough reported cases of such a stroke that it was dubbed “beauty parlor stroke syndrome” in medical literature.

While stroke resulting from a trip to the salon is rare, research suggests that elderly salon-goers are at higher risk of experiencing stroke from a shampoo job. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association notes that the condition is the result of hyperextension of the neck and that it hinders the flow of blood through the vertebral artery.

“The hazard of sustained hyperextension and rotation on vertebral artery flow has not been previously addressed in the elderly population who are disproportionately at risk for cerebrovascular disease. The following five cases suggest that every adult should be made aware of the potential dangers of extreme and sustained neck posture during activities of daily living.”

Fortunately for salon lovers, cases of beauty parlor stroke are extremely rare. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent beauty parlor stroke if you are concerned. First, doctors say that if you feel uncomfortable in the shampoo chair, inform your beautician and adjust your neck. You should ensure that your neck is in a straight line with your spine. If your salon does not have wash basins with good neck support, doctors suggest asking for a rolled up towel to ensure your neck is in proper alignment. If at any point you are not comfortable, tell your stylist so that the chair can be adjusted.

Doctors say that if you have any symptoms of stroke following a salon visit to immediately seek medical help. The symptoms of stroke include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Weakness in the extremities (arms or legs)
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Paralysis
  • Blurred vision
  • Visual loss
  • Trouble with balance
  • Difficulty speaking or slurred speech
  • Numbness in a portion of the face

Did you know that “beauty parlor stroke syndrome” was a risk of having your hair washed at a beauty salon?

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