Headphones are useful for music, gaming, and video privacy. Too much use of headphones may cause hair damage and loss.
Casually wearing headphones or a headset will not cause serious hair damage. However, daily use of a headset can cause traction alopecia, or hair loss caused by constant friction or pulling on the roots.
So which headphones are dangerous? When should you be worried? How to stop hair loss? Here’s the lowdown on headphones and hair loss.
Which Headphones Are Dangerous?
Traditional headphones can cause hair damage if used excessively. This design features a tight band around the head and two speakers over each ear. Headphones without adjustable bands are more prone to damage.
Many people choose to wear their headphone bands behind their heads or over their necks to avoid hair damage or loss, but this may not be feasible for musicians who require a tight fit.
Direct-to-ear earphones do not directly interact with hair and thus do not cause hair loss. Adjustable headphone bands also reduce hair loss and damage.
While nonadjustable headphones are more prone to damage, the chances of serious damage are low and they only pose a real risk when worn constantly.
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Do My Headphones Have a Shelf Life?
The amount of time wearing headphones causes hair loss is unknown. However, daily use of headphones increases the risk of traction alopecia.
Those who play games for long periods of time with tight-fitting headsets have reported scalp irritation and hair loss due to traction alopecia.
When I asked a Reddit gaming community about their headphone usage, the majority said they use them for at least 4 hours per day. Despite wearing headphones for several hours per day, 90% of those who wore them said they had never had any problems with hair loss. So, the risk of hair loss from headphones is low enough that the casual headphone user need not be concerned.
Do I have to remove my headphones?
No, in a nutshell. As long as you don’t abuse your headphones or wear them constantly, you won’t lose hair. You can safely listen to music with headphones without worrying about balding.
Traction Alopecia is hair loss caused by repeated hair pulling. Damaged hair from tight ponytails or buns is the most common symptom. Excessive use of headphones is another possible cause.
The first signs of traction alopecia are pimple-like red dots on the scalp. Missing and broken hairs along the scalp indicate a worsening condition. It is most common in the frontal hairline, but it can occur anywhere on the scalp.
Traction alopecia can cause:
Itch or stinging
Hair follicle inflammation
Swollen pus-filled scalp blisters
Traction alopecia is not a medical condition, but it can be very harmful to the hair and scalp. Consistently worn headphones can damage hair roots and cause traction alopecia. If you suffer from this condition, you should use earbuds or softer headphones.
Avoiding Traction Alopecia
Wearing earbuds instead of headphones, choosing headphones that fit looser, or wrapping the headphone band around the neck or back of the head can help prevent traction alopecia. Reduce the use of headphones in general. Wearing headphones every now and then is fine, but if they are irritating your hair and scalp, you should stop using them.
Change hairstyles to avoid tight ponytails or braids and wear your hair down to reduce traction alopecia. Reducing heat or cutting your hair shorter can help relieve scalp irritation. Avoid rigid headbands, hats, and hairpieces.
Hair loss and traction alopecia remedies
If you have traction alopecia, you should see a dermatologist right away. Dermatologists can assess the damage and prescribe relief and healing.
Among the remedies prescribed by doctors for traction alopecia are:
Antibiotics, which help prevent and treat infections.
Topical steroids for swelling and inflammation
Topical minioxidal is an over-the-counter hair growth medicine.
Antifungal shampoos for itching
Biotin supplements for hair growth.
These treatments, especially hair growth treatments, can take months to fully work. There is no immediate cure for traction alopecia, nor is there a magical hair growth pill that will instantly restore your hair. But with time and effort, your hair and scalp can recover.
After traction alopecia treatments, avoid things that can irritate your hair or scalp. Until the inflammation subsides, keep your hair down, avoid tight-fitting hats, and avoid headphones.