Pittsburgh Curly

A Curly Girl in da ‘Burgh

The Battle of Trichorrhexis Nodosa

Posted by pittsburghcurly on July 5, 2009

White dot on hair - magnified

White dot on hair - magnified

Trichorrhexis nodosa. To me, the term sounds like something out of Spartan history. I see the term  and think of the Battle of Thermopylae and the never ending chiseled abs seen in “300.”

But alas, I am not writing about male chiseled abs. I am writing about white dots, which is a more user-friendly term than saying trichorrhexis nodosa all the time.

For a medical description, you can click the emedicine link here.

For the purposes of this post, I’m going by the PG definition.

Trichorrhexis nodosa
This is an explosion of the cortex at a single point on the hair. It looks like a tiny white bead on the hair, and can lead to hair breakage. It is a classic sign of cosmetic and chemical over-treatment of the hair. So its appearance should always prompt the thought, ‘What is this person doing to the hair more than the rest of us are doing?

I had plenty of these white dots. I sort of enjoyed picking the ends of them off, and hearing that snap of hair. No, it wasn’t healthy, but it was sort of gratifying.

It’s not unusual for curlies, especially those with longer hair to be plagued by split ends and the white dots. I would trim them up on my own now and again. I have a pair of hair scissors that I keep around just for split end trimming. Using them for anything else would dull the blades. I don’t believe in the whole “split-end repair” hype that some products claim. Splits are broken hairs, and can be best managed by snipping them. For me, the splits and dots tangle up on neighboring hairs, causing more knots and more splits.

Previously, along with coloring my hair, I diffused it dry regularly. At my length, and with the heat and chemicals, I had the splits and dots to show it. In January, it was more than I could keep up with while doing my own mini trims, so I had a 3 inch trim with my color appointment. The ends felt much better.

After that, I decided to stop heat drying my hair. This seemed ridiculous as we had a cold winter, but, I went for it. Fortunately, I work a shift that allows plenty of drying time if I allow it.

I’ve been fairly lazy about looking for splits since that last trim. Today, while sitting out on the porch in lovely, sunny, mild weather, I decided to snip a few splits and dots. Imagine my surprise when I had maybe ten ends to trim. That’s it. I haven’t had a trim in half a year, I am still getting my hair colored, and here I am with a couple of hand-fulls of split ends. I was surprised and quite pleased.

I had worried that the coloring had been doing most of the split damage. I suppose that I was getting more damage from heat drying (chronic use) than I was from coloring (occasional use).

I’m glad to see that my decision to go to air drying has paid off with better ends. Yeah, sometimes I run around with wet looking hair, especially when heavily gelled! But, at least with gel, I have an excuse for the wet look, lol. The payoff of better ends is worth it to me. And, I can still keep coloring. :P

If you’re getting a lots of split ends and white dots yourself, and you heat dry and heat style a lot, you may want to consider air drying part of the time to help your ends.

6 Responses to “The Battle of Trichorrhexis Nodosa”

  1. Katrina said

    Great post! I’ve never (knock on wood) seen white dots on my hair. I don’t color, but I do diffuse on low. It’s definitely something I’ll look out for! Thanks for the great post!

  2. pittsburghcurly said

    Katrina, I wonder if some can get away with one thing, but not two. I still color, but haven’t seen the dots since giving up the hair dryer. You dry, but you don’t color. We each only picked one potentially (or actually in my case) abusive thing.

    Part of why I wanted to post was that awesome closeup of the white dot. I love the pic, lol.

  3. Jill said

    What a scary condition! And you have thick, coarse hair, which you’d think would be more resilient to these damaging factors. It’s funny how we underestimate the damage done by heat styling. Your post has made me mindful that diffusing is not as benign as we might think…. Glad you found some relief from the dreaded white dots!

  4. DEL said

    AAAACKKKK! Frantically searching for white dots! None on me as of now LOL!

    So glad your’e blogging again RCC ;)

  5. wild~hair said

    That pic is crazy, I can see why you wanted to post it.

    I also run around with wet hair. I hate diffusing — not because of the damage, but I get really bored doing it. ;)

  6. DEL said

    That is too funny! I never thought about it either but yes Diffusing is a total BORE! LOL!! That’s why I prefer the R2D2 at least then I can read or do something else while my hair dries :p I also lack patience with air drying in colder months I don’t know how you do it RCC day after day…

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