Bubble Hair Syndrome

Bubble Hair Syndrome first described by Brown et al (1986) is an acquired condition in which the hair shaft presents in a dry and brittle state due to cosmetic trauma. Elston et al (1992) reported two cases in 1992.  Detwiler et al. (1994) revealed that the subject had been using a faulty hair dryer, functioning at 300oC. It has also been shown that the use of tongs at 125°C for one minute, has the ability to induce bubble hair (Detwiler 1994).
Experimentally, the same bubble formation could be produced by the use of a dryer working at 175oC.
Gummer (1994) reported two cases where the heat from curling tongs was believed to be responsible. Microscopic examination reveals multiple minute bubbles ‘blisters’ believed to result from the vaporisation of residual moisture within vacuoles (tiny cavities) in the hair shaft’s structure during thermal hairdressing processes. The appliances e.g. hairdryers, hot tongs, straightening irons can deliver temperatures of up to 230° C.  Fragility with severance (immediate or delayed) may follow.
Chemical processes which increase the hair shafts moisture retention can exacerbate the vulnerability to bubbling.
There is no way of repairing hair-shafts damaged in this way.

Prevention through avoiding the cause.

Detwiler SP et al. Bubble hair. Case caused by an overheating hair dryer and reproducibility in  normal hair with heat. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1994.

Elston DM, et al. Bubble hair.

J Cutan Pathol. 1992.

Gummer CL . Bubble hair: a cosmetic abnormality caused by brief, focal heating of damp hair fibres.Br J Dermatol. 1994 Dec;131(6):901-3.

Prof. B Stevens FTTS