“Salon Stroke Syndrome”

A hair wash at your favourite beauty parlour can lead to a medical condition, which is being dubbed as the “Salon Stroke Syndrome”. But should one bid adieu to the shampoo station yet?

Jhelum Biswas

A recent tweet from a Hyderabad-based neurologist Dr Sudhir Kumar, has had the social media buzzing about the probable danger of suffering from a stroke at the shampoo session. Kumar, in his tweet shared that he treated a 50-year-old woman who had suffered a stroke while getting a hair wash at a beauty parlour. She presented the symptoms of nausea, dizziness and vomiting during the shampoo. While she was taken to a gastroenterologist and treated symptomatically, she was referred to Kumar when a day later she experienced mild imbalance while walking.

The doctor found irregularities in the MRI of the brain and explained in an interview with The Indian Express that in 10-20 per cent people, one side of the artery may be thin which can lead to a stroke when the other (thick-side’s artery) gets compressed with any kind of hyperextension of the neck – in this case, caused by leaning the head backward during a hair wash at the shampoo station.

A similar incident was reported by self.com in 2016, wherein a woman in California, Elizabeth Smith, sued a beauty salon claiming that she had developed a stroke while having her hair washed in one of the salon’s shampoo stations. Smith had alleged that eight days after visiting her local salon, where she had her hair washed for 10 minutes, she felt weakness in her left arm and leg. A week later, she had a massive stroke. In fact, similar cases have been reported since 1993, adds Kumar.

When the artery is compressed, it can suffer a rupture. This in turn can lead to a blood clot, which can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. The chance of the stroke is higher when the individual suffers from hypertension. Immediate treatment can be of help. Hence, while at the shampoo station if one feels discomfort, dizziness and nausea, it is important to inform the salon immediately. Kumar explains that while some recover well post stroke, others owing to co-morbidities and age may need to be on medication throughout life.

While Kumar’s post has been an eye opener for many, one doesn’t need to ditch the shampoo station. All that one needs to do, is to be careful. Though this condition is not too common, it is best to be informed about what can lead to it and be aware that this stroke can happen at a dentist’s chair, while playing tennis and even doing yoga. For instance, those who are practicing head stands, should do it under supervision and immediately stop on feeling any discomfort. Immediate help should be sort in case of any stroke-like symptoms.

Delhi-based hair stylist, Rod Anker says, “Over 30 years in the industry I have not experienced this. Yes, I’ve heard about it, however it’s incredibly rare. It’s more to do with blockage of circulation at the base of the spine. I would suggest, avoid heavy scalp massages at the basin and ensure you are comfortable whilst lying down.”

All salon therapists should be well educated about this condition and ensure that the client’s neck is cushioned, by padding the area beneath the neck with towels. While it is good to be aware and well informed, there’s no need to give up on these small indulgences.

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