Angela Onwuzoo

A Consultant Dermatologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, has asked mothers to exercise caution in the use of strong relaxers on their children’s hair, warning that it could damage the hair and also lead to permanent hair loss.

According to the dermatologist, if the burn is too deep, it can lead to permanent hair loss with a scar over the area. 

Speaking in an exclusive interview with PUNCH Healthwise, Dr. Ojinmah, who is also President of the Nigerian Medical Association, advised mothers to use very low-strength relaxers when it has to do with children.

The dermatologist noted, “Applying strong relaxers on children’s hair can cause burns on the scalp and can cause hair loss.

“Mothers must use very low strength relaxers when it has to do with children. They should avoid very strong relaxers. Different types of hair textures determine the type of relaxers that are used. 

“The dangers that come with the use of strong relaxers is burning of the scalp which can be serious, it can also cause pain over the scalp and it can cause hair loss. 

“If the burn is too deep, it can lead to permanent hair loss with a scar over the area. It will not grow back again. But if the burn is superficial, the hair will grow back.

Dr. Ojinmah went on to say that applying relaxers to children’s hair can also make the hair start cutting and falling off in some instances.

“I know a lot of people that have permanent hair loss that starts from a relaxer,” he noted.

The dermatologist advised mothers to braid their children’s hair and to also groom them rather than applying relaxers to them.

He counselled, “I would advocate grooming of the hair of young people. Children are better off having their hair groomed. Combing it regularly, applying hair cream, and braiding is okay and the braiding should not be too tight.”

Scientific research has shown there is cause for concern with the use of the ingredients found in hair relaxers products.

These products, researchers say, enter the body via the scalp and can lead to many complications.

In a 2013 article published in the International Journal of Trichology titled, “Chemical Hair Relaxers Have Adverse Effects a Myth or Reality”, the authors said long-term use of hair relaxers can be harmful as it is believed to enter the scalp through the scalp lesions and burns.

“A case report showed deep-seated staphylococcal infection related to the usage of hair relaxers, especially in immuno-compromised individuals.

“Another interesting fact was the increased risk of uterine leiomyomata associated with hair relaxers.

“Seeing all these side-effects along with our study, it is evident that there are very few serious systemic adverse effects associated with chemical relaxers,” the authors said.

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