Braids are an all-time favorite for many. However, braiding hair is commonly accompanied by an irritating itch. To understand the reasons why and how to avoid the itch, keep on reading.
Why do Braids Itch?
1. Tight installation
It is important to dethrone the misconception that tight braids last longer. Instead, they cause damage to your hair and adversely affect the overall health of your hair.
When braids are installed tightly they often cause bumps, irritation and inflammation of the scalp. Tight braids pull on your hair roots thus resulting in hair loss also referred to as traction alopecia. All these consequently cause itching of the scalp.
2. Heavy braids
Braids are generally heavier than normal hair. This causes strain on your hair roots and limits the hairstyles you can tolerate. As a result, there will be a constant tugging and pulling on the hair when styling and as such causing bumps and irritation of the scalp which eventually leads to itching.
To enjoy long but comfortable and protective styled braids, it is advised to use very lightweight braiding hair.
3. Preservatives in the braids
To preserve braiding hair while in storage, alkaline lye is sprayed onto the hair. The fact that the chemical solution is used to prevent molding in the hair tells you the likelihood of it causing a reaction and irritation on the scalp and skin.
Some types of braiding hair have an anti-itch ability. This can be used instead to prevent itching.
Some people are prone to allergic reactions to dyes used in braiding hair, especially low-grade hair. These dyes irritate your scalp and skin and eventually, cause itching.
5. Texture of the braiding Hair
Coarse braiding hair has some fly-away hairs that penetrate outside the braid and poke your scalp and skin causing itching.
You’re encouraged to invest in soft textured hair as it provides more definition for fine braids which causes less or no itching.
6. Product build-up
Oil is used during braiding. Most times, we neglect to wash our braids for the fear of them getting ruined. This causes product build-up over time and results in itching.
7. Dry scalp
Oiling the scalp when you have braids can be cumbersome as opposed to open hair. Failure to regularly moisturize your scalp will therefore cause an itchy and flaky scalp.
How to Fix it
1. Loosen the braids
Loose braids are not only a protective style for your hair but also comfortable to wear and style. Loosely installed braids allow for multiple styles with minimal hair loss. This prevents itching caused by tight braids.
2. Choose quality braids
Some important factors to consider when selecting braiding hair include:
- Texture of the hair
It is recommended to go for soft-textured hair.
- Grade of the hair
Low-grade hair is common because it is cheaper. However, you’re encouraged to invest in high-grade hair to avoid itching.
3. Soak in apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a good remedy for itching.
Before braiding, place the braiding hair in a basin with lukewarm water then add a cup of vinegar and let it sit for 15 minutes then rinse it out in cold water twice. Air-dry the hair and you’re good to go.
If you experience itching after braiding, put water and vinegar in a ratio of 3:1 into a spray bottle then spray it directly on your hair and scalp.
4. Try homemade anti-itch remedies
Several homemade remedies can be used to fix itching caused by braids. One, you can add a few drops of essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, tea tree and castor oil into your shampoo. These oils have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that have a soothing effect on the scalp.
Another home remedy is a combination of baking soda and lavender oil. In a bowl, put three tablespoons of baking soda. Add half a cup of water to make a paste.
5. Nourish & moisturize the hair
To prevent braids from itching it is recommended that you gently massage into the hair coconut, jojoba, castor oil or pure aloe vera gel. This nourishes the scalp and stimulates blood flow to the hair follicles thus lifting dead skin cells thus curing and preventing the itch.
6. Wash your braided hair
You can also simply wash your braids. There are anti-itch medicated shampoos containing cool tar as the main ingredient. However, note that such shampoos can sometimes dry out your hair and it is recommended to use them this way:
- Apply the medicated shampoo directly to the scalp;
- Massage it gently using your fingertips;
- Wait for about 15 minutes and then wash it off;
- Use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to prevent possible dryness.
Braids, if properly tended to, will not itch much and as such, it is recommended that you mositurize your scalp frequently and stick to the aforementioned methods to keep itching at bay.