Is Bamboo Hair?
Bamboo hair, or trichorrhexis nodosa, is a hair shaft abnormality
that causes your hair strands to look similar to the knots in a bamboo stalk.
Normal, healthy hair strands appear smooth under a microscope. Bamboo hair
appears to contain nodules, which are bumps, or evenly spaced ridges. It’s also
referred to as trichorrhexis invaginata.
Bamboo hair is a feature of a disease called Netherton’s syndrome. According to Children’s
Mercy Hospital and Clinics, most cases of trichorrhexis invaginata are
caused by Netherton’s syndrome, which is an inherited condition that causes
red, flaky skin all over your body, and allergy problems.
Bamboo hair can affect hair on top of your head, your eyebrows,
and your eyelashes.
Are the Symptoms of Bamboo Hair?
The symptoms of bamboo hair can include:
- hair that breaks easily
- hair strands that have a knotty appearance
- a loss of eyelashes
- a loss of eyebrows
- sparse hair growth or hair loss pattern
- dry hair
- hair that lacks luster
- spiky hair
- short hair due to consistent breakage
- hair on the eyebrows that resembles matchsticks
Children born with Netherton’s syndrome may have red, flaky skin,
and may not develop signs of bamboo hair until after 2 years of age.
Causes Bamboo Hair?
An inherited mutated gene called SPINK5 causes bamboo hair. A
mutation in this gene causes an abnormal growth process.
Bamboo hair is characterized by a weakness in the cortex, or the
center, of your hair strands. Weak spots form at certain points along the
strand and nearby harder segments of the cortex press into these weak areas,
causing nodules, or ridges, to form. This creates a bumpy appearance on your
hair strand and usually causes your hair to break easily.
To diagnose bamboo hair, you’ll need a physical examination. Your
doctor will pluck a hair from your scalp to observe it under a microscope.
To diagnose Netherton’s syndrome, your doctor may order a series
of DNA tests or a skin biopsy to test for gene mutations. For a skin biopsy,
your doctor will remove a small amount of skin tissue for testing in a lab. DNA
tests are often used to test the SPINK5 gene for abnormalities.
for Bamboo Hair
Since the condition is a direct result of a gene mutation,
there’s no known way to prevent the condition. However, there are many types of
lotions and ointments you can use to treat bamboo hair. These include:
- emollients and keratolytics to moisturize your
- antibiotics for infections in the skin and elsewhere
- topical steroids, which shouldn’t be used on
You can minimize hair breakage by ensuring that your hair remains
hydrated. You can do this by drinking water regularly and by avoiding the use
of alcohol-based hair products. These products cause your hair to dry out,
which can worsen the breakage. There are also hair care products aimed at
hydrating dry hair.
Avoid the use of chemicals in your hair such as hair relaxers or
perms. You shouldn’t use them on damaged hair either. Using these products may
result in severe hair loss and cicatricial alopecia, or scarring alopecia. This
form of hair loss scars your hair follicles, making future hair growth less
Is the Outlook for People with Bamboo Hair?
Although the condition can’t be prevented or fully cured because
it’s the result of a genetic mutation, there are ways to manage your symptoms
by hydrating your hair and healing your skin. Avoiding chemicals that dry your
hair and your scalp and using hair care products that hydrate your hair and
even ointments and lotions will lessen symptoms. The condition also improves
with age even if it’s left untreated.