Did you know that the simple act of brushing, curling or styling your little girl’s hair can cause her to faint, or experience seizure-like symptoms? This rare condition is called hair grooming syncope, and usually affects kids aged 5-13.
A mum’s post on this condition recently went viral, after her little sister suffered seizure-like symptoms and seemed to collapse when her hair was being curled.
“If a kid ever complains of their belly hurting or feeling light-headed while they are getting their hair done, make sure they take a seat and keep a close eye on them!” warns mummy Alicia Brown Phillips.
Hair grooming Syncope: Girl suffers a seizure while hair is being curled
In a Facebook post on 8 July 2019, Alicia shares about that scary day when she first got to know of the rare condition called hair grooming syncope.
It all started when Alicia was curling her sister Gracie’s hair for church.
“I was maybe about five minutes in and she starts to gag a little and looks kind of pale. I asked her if she was going to get sick and she shook her head yes.”
Alicia helped her sister lean over the toilet, but around 30 seconds later her sister looked at her as if she was going to pass out any moment.
“She is extremely pale with blue lips and starts to pass out. Her pupils got really big and I caught her. I start screaming for Dale to come help.”
“Gracie has a blank stare and look on her face and is completely unresponsive and limp for about a minute. Her hands were also shaking. Very seizure like.”
Thankfully, her sister gained consciousness soon, and said she was feeling better.
“She says she remembers hearing us talk but couldn’t see us. I was crying.”
“She was very confused. My mom and dad rush to my house and a few hours in Children’s hospital, an EKG, and a head scan later… she is fine.”
It was at the hospital that Alicia got to know about the rare condition that is called hair grooming syncope.
“They said they see about 1-5 cases a year. Turns out brushing, curling, braiding, or drying can cause nerve stimulation on the scalp and cause some children to have seizure like symptoms,” she shares.
“If a kid ever complains of their belly hurting or feeling light headed while they are getting their hair done, make sure they take a seat and keep a close eye on them! Apparently very rare but so scary to see it happen!”
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Hair grooming Syncope: Why it happens
A quick fact check on snopes.com reveals that hair grooming syncope is indeed real.
According to Wikipedia, hair grooming syncope (also known as hair combing syncope) is a form of syncope (a fainting disorder) associated with combing and brushing one’s hair. It is most typically seen in children aged five to sixteen.
Symptoms are usually seen during hair combing, brushing, braiding, trimming, curling, or blow drying. These symptoms are followed by a loss of consciousness and sometimes convulsions.
Migraines, abdominal pain, “feeling funny” or blurred vision may also occur before or after seizures.
Possible causes of the condition include pain or nerve stimulation on the scalp or compression of blood vessels or nerves resulting from neck flexion or extension.
A study conducted in 2009 found that, while this condition occurs most frequently in girls, boys can also experience hair grooming syncope: “Of the 111 patients, 78% were girls. We found characteristic difference between boys and girls with boys experiencing syncope more during hair cutting whereas girls experienced syncope more during hair combing and brushing.”
Doctors say that hair grooming syncope occurs because a nerve in the scalp communicates with the vasovagal nerve, which regulates blood pressure and heart rate.
Tugging on the hair sparks a sensation in that nerve to stimulate the vasovagal nerve, causing the blood pressure and heart rate to slow, which can lead to a loss of consciousness.
While we don’t have to be overly worried about children fainting, doctors advise that parents take kids to the doctor for a check up post fainting, to rule out underlying causes, such as heart problems.
Most children outgrow hair-grooming syncope by their mid-teens. For people who experience hair grooming syncope, expert advise to stay well-hydrated and make sure you eat prior to hair grooming.
If your child starts to feel faint, ask her to lie down and lift her legs, to increase the blood flow to the brain.
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