The Rare But Real Risk at the Hair Salon

The hidden cost of beauty could be your health. A routine visit to the hair salon for a relaxing day or a new look can, with one wrong move, change your life forever. That’s because of a medical event called “Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome” (BPSS). It can occur by having your head bent backward improperly or for a long period of time during the shampoo process at the hair salon. Blood vessels in the back of your neck could become compressed and result in a stroke. Sometimes the blood vessels in the spinal canal are extra-long and can get “kinked” by the pressure placed there. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness on one side of the body, blurry or double vision, or loss of vision. Those who are most at risk include older people because of the likelihood of arthritis in the neck, people who have had whiplash in auto accidents, and those who have recently had chiropractic manipulation. The best way to prevent BPSS is to avoid hyperextension of the neck for a long period of time. Always make sure you have effective neck support during the shampoo process — even a towel on the cradle of the wash basin will do the trick. Even better is to request that you be shampooed with your head bent forward rather than backward. While BPSS is not known to be fatal, any stroke at the base of the brain can have lasting effects. Now that you’re “in the know,” don’t let that scare you away from the beauty salon. An hour or two of pampering can still be a treat if you take the proper precautions.