Yesterday we were talking about white dots…

Yes, as some of you stated, white dots can signify a lice problem (ewwww!!!), but in this particular case, it’s the result of heat damage.

In fact, two years ago, white dots could be found on the tips of my colored strands. I guess the color and heat damage proved to be too much for my fine strands. This white dot syndrome is also known as bubble hair, or more formally, Trichorrhexis nodosa. It occurs when there is an explosion of the cortex at a single point on the hair strand. It looks like a tiny white bead on the hair, and inevitably results in hair breakage. It is a classic sign of physical and/or chemical over-treatment of the hair. The hair is so fragile at the white dot, that even the slightest tug results in breakage below the dot. Sometimes, the hair is bent at a hard or 90 degree angle at the white dot, which inevitably results in breakage. The problem is, if left to its own devices, the broken off hair (the end with the white dot) may split or cause adjacent hairs to tangle up. It’s best to snip the hair above the white dot, and then proceed to get your moisture/protein balance in check.

A couple of years ago, I found an awesome online reference manual on Proctor and Gamble’s web site.Very informative! It’s written by Dr. John Gray and it’s provided by the Proctor & Gamble Hair Care Research center. Check it out HERE, and find some key excerpts about white dot syndrome below:

Excerpt #1
We have seen the importance of the moisture content of hair to the hair’s condition. Processes like blow drying reduce the moisture content below its normal level and can in themselves be harmful. Hair dryers and other heated appliances first soften the keratin of the hair. If they are too hot, they can actually cause the water in the hair to boil, and tiny bubbles of steam then form inside the softened hair shaft. The hair is thereby weakened, and may break altogether.
There is no treatment for seriously heat-damaged hair, although trimming the damaged hair can reduce the formation of split ends.

Excerpt #2
People will tell you that their bubble hair ‘just happened’, quite suddenly, after they had been doing the same things to their hair for a long time. Then all at once they noticed tiny ‘bubbles’ in the ends of their hair.

Invariably, bubble hair is caused by some kind of heating appliance, most often curling irons. These operate somewhere between 120 and 180 °C, roughly speaking. Water boils at 100 °C. If a hot curling iron is put on to wet hair, it boils the water inside the hair. The boiling water softens the keratin of the cortex; then the steam from the boiling water expands and forms tiny bubbles inside the hair. Eventually the hair breaks off, either at or somewhere near a bubble.

Every woman who has used curling irons knows that they work better on some days than others. One day she may have them just a little hotter than usual: that might be just enough to cause bubble hair, and for the affected hair to break off.

Although the sufferer usually claims that her hair was perfectly normal until she changed the hair product she was using, further enquiry always uncovers a history of increased or excessive cosmetic treatments. Usually bubble hair happens to people who are doing a lot of styling to their hair at home. And it is always, always associated with the use of heated appliances on damp hair.

Bubble Hair up close:

Makes you want to think twice before reaching for that blow dryer, huh?

For another article on split ends and how to prevent them, click HERE.