Are Headphones Bad For Your Hair?

Did you know that wearing headphones while listening to music could be bad for your hair? Read on to find out more and how you can avoid it!

Bald man wearing headphones

Unless you prefer being bald, most of us enjoy a head full of hair. In fact, we associate healthy hair with our self-image. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we often wonder whether headphones can damage our hair. One can’t deny that headphones are useful for many things, including gaming and music. But is there a reason to be concerned about their effects on our hair?

Wearing headphones casually and occasionally won’t cause any serious damage to your hair. However, excessive and frequent use of headsets can lead to traction alopecia. This is hair loss caused by consistent friction or traction of the hair from the roots.

What Types Of Headphones Cause Damage?

The traditional style headphones are the ones that can be bad for your hair. This style includes a band that goes over your head and connects to two speakers, each going over your ears. Headphones without adjustable bands are even worse, as they can cause more damage.

That’s why most people prefer to wear them with the band going over their neck. Alternatively, they wear it behind the head to reduce the risk of hair loss or damage.

Still, it’s important to note that even though headphones without an adjustable band can be bad for your hair, the risk of that happening is very low. They only pose a risk when you wear them every day for long hours.

Bald musician with headphones

How Often Can I Wear Headphones Without Causing Damage?

There is no specific limit to how long wearing headphones will lead to hair loss. But if you wear them every day for several hours, you increase the chances of damaging your hair caused by traction alopecia.

In fact, gamers who spend a lot of time wearing tight-fitting headphones often complain of hair loss and scalp irritation. Still, the majority admit they have never experienced hair loss, despite wearing headphones for more than four hours a day.

We can say that the chances of losing hair because of wearing headphones are low. But if you notice scalp irritation, it’s best to reduce how often you wear them.

What Is Traction Alopecia?

As we’ve mentioned, this is a condition caused by the constant pulling of the hair.

Most of the time, it’s people who pull their hair in a tight bun or ponytail that experience it. But other times, the condition can be caused by tight headbands, hats, and, as we’ve said, using headphones frequently.

How Bad Is Traction Alopecia

The thing with traction alopecia is that you’ll see it coming. You won’t just wake up one day and find that you’re bald. 

However, if you notice the signs and symptoms but don’t do anything, a couple of months or years later, it can damage your hair follicles permanently, leading to balding.

Man pointing to bald patch

Signs And Symptoms Of Traction Alopecia

According to Healthline, the first sign of traction alopecia is little red bumps on your scalp. With time, you’ll start noticing broken or missing hair, especially on the sides of your scalp where your headphones go. Aside from hair loss, other signs of traction alopecia include:

  • Itchiness or stinging
  • Redness on the scalp
  • Inflamed hair follicles
  • Blisters on the scalp
  • The scalp scales

Even though doctors don’t necessarily consider traction alopecia a medical condition, it’s quite damaging and detrimental to both the hair and scalp. 

When you wear earphones consistently, they will pull your hair roots and cause damage through this condition. If you experience any of these signs, you may want to switch to a different type of earphone, such as earbuds.

How To Avoid Traction Alopecia

The easiest way to avoid traction alopecia caused by headphones is by using earbuds. Alternatively, you can wear loose-fitting headphones or wear them around your neck.

We also suggest you reduce how often you wear headphones generally. While they aren’t dangerous, if they start to irritate your scalp or lead to hair loss, most likely, you are wearing them too much.

You can also prevent traction alopecia by changing your hairstyle. If you wear your hair or braids in a tight ponytail, wear it down once in a while.

Is Traction Alopecia Reversible?

We believe that the earlier you address traction alopecia, the better. In fact, dermatologists suggest you seek treatment immediately after you notice hair loss. Ignoring the condition is likely to lead to permanent hair damage.

How To Remedy Hair Loss Caused By Traction Alopecia

See a dermatologist immediately after you start experiencing symptoms of traction alopecia. The physician will assess how bad the damage is and suggest a way to help you manage the condition. Some common remedies a dermatologist can suggest include the following:

  • Topical steroids to reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Antibiotics to prevent infections and treat sores that may have formed.
  • Antifungal shampoos to prevent irritation
  • Topical minoxidil: This is an over-the-counter prescription that enhances hair growth
  • Biotin supplement to boost hair growth

Most of these treatments, especially those that facilitate hair growth, can take a couple of months before you see results. There is no magic cure to get rid of traction alopecia or a pill to bring back your hair. But with diligence and patience, your scalp and hair will return to normal.

Once you’re given treatment, avoid anything that can irritate your scalp further. Aside from headphones, wear your hair down and avoid tight-fitting hats until the swelling goes down.

Man treated for hair loss

Related article – Are Over Ear Headphones Bad For You?

Should I Stop Wearing Headphones Completely?

No, as long as you don’t wear them constantly, you have nothing to worry about. You can continue enjoying your music or movies without stressing about possible hair loss.

How To Avoid Hair Loss From Wearing Headphones

As much as there’s a treatment for traction alopecia, we all know prevention is better than cure. And fortunately, the measures we suggest are pretty easy to help you avoid the problem. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Buy Adjustable Headphones

If you’re a music producer, professional gamer, or artist, you can’t escape headphones as they come with the job. But what you can do is wear headphones with an adjustable band. It helps because you’ll make the band larger, creating some space between it and your hair.

Moreover, you may not even need to create a huge gap. Simply ensuring that the headphones are loose will help. But then again, ensure they are not too loose to the point where they get in the way of your comfort.

Place Them Differently

This is another solution you could try out. Instead of wearing the headphones on your head, move the headband to the back. That way, the band will hang behind your head rather than touching your scalp. And because there will be no friction or traction, you can avoid traction alopecia.

Nevertheless, you can’t do this with all types of headphones. Some may be too heavy, and the moment you place them at the back of your head, they fall. Others may be too light to stay in place. If this solution doesn’t work for you, try the other discussed solutions.

Interesting read – Best Headphones For Coding And Programming

Avoid Wearing Headphones For Long Hours

This solution may not work for everybody. After all, if your work requires you to wear headphones for long hours, you won’t have an option. In such a case, we suggest taking breaks every now and then.

Don’t wear your headphones for longer than four consecutive hours. It will help you avoid the issue of falling hair.

Wear Earbuds Or In-Ear Headphones

Another excellent solution that will help you prevent the problem altogether is by wearing in-ear headphones and earbuds. They don’t come into contact with your hair or head, meaning there won’t be any traction or friction.

Again, this solution might not be for everyone, because some people prefer headphones to earbuds. And when you’re a gamer, it’s hard to find in-head earphones that will give you a great gaming experience. In such a case, use the other solutions mentioned.

Man wearing earbuds and writing in a book

Related article – Are Earbuds Good For Gaming?

Wear A Cap Followed By Your Headphones

If you must wear headphones for an extended period, then wear a cap as well. Just ensure that it isn’t too tight, as tight-fitting caps have also been associated with traction alopecia.

Wear Lighter Headphones

This is particularly important if you have thick or long hair. You can’t afford to put any more pressure on your hair, as that will just cause it to pull. And when you combine that with ill-fitting headphones, you can easily damage your hair.

On top of that, heavy headphones can contribute to headphone hair. You don’t want to be dealing with that when you are already concerned about hair loss!

Light headphones won’t put any pressure or traction on your head, and you won’t have to keep adjusting them, making them a great fit.

Among all these solutions offered, we think buying adjustable headphones is the most suitable and less stressful one. You will still use your headphones as normal without worrying. But if that doesn’t work for you, you’re free to try out the other solutions.