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dread locks? Need info on care

Posted

Specializes in critical care; community health; psych.

This patient came in really really dirty. When we assessed her, we couldn't tell whether the discolorations on her dark skin were from dirt or actual lesions. But the worst was her hair. She has these dread locks that you just know need a good washing. The back of her hair is solidly matted. I've seen dread locks before. These are not your standard dreads. That is a just plain matted mess. The doc ordered daily hair washing. I need someone familiar with African American hair to give me the scoop on this. The pt. says her hair and scalp never need to be washed. True or false? Regardless, we know that hair is plenty dirty. How do we proceed? Most of us think it's so far gone it the only way to handle it is to cut it off.

Just shampoo the hair with shampoo like any other hair. I have locs (not dreadlocks there is nothing dreadful about them) and shampoo and condition them just as often as any other woman. I don't shampoo my hair daily though because that will severely dry out my scalp. In fact, that is true for most African American women.

If she says it is not necessary to wash her hair that is probably a symptom of her mental status. I should also mention that discussing locs should be done with a bit of cultural sensitivity. Some people with locs choose not to groom them into neat individual locs and instead let their hair grow out naturally (matted) as it pleases. This does not in any way mean that the hair is dirty. Not shampooing one's hair makes it dirty not the hairstyle.

I was rushing when I posted earlier and forgot to say a couple of things. If your patient is going to be in your care for a while, I suggest getting some hair oil for her to use. Depending on the texture it might dry out if you don't oil it after shampooing. You will find hair oil in the "African-American" hair product aisle in WalMart, Target, Sally's, etc. I wouldn't worry too much about taking that extra step if you are only caring for her for a couple of days. Shampoo and conditioner should do just fine.

I would think very carefully before cutting all of her hair off. Some people actually prefer for their locs to look that way. It's called freeform locs. Bob Marley is an example. That is not my personal preference, but I respect other people's choice. I just don't think it is right to cut off anyone's hair just because you (medical staff) think it is ugly. It should only be cut for medical reasons such as a lice infestation which medication cannot rid. Just my opinion...

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

never washing hair with dreadlocks: false

dreadlocks product reviews dreadlocks pictures

dreadlock hair care

hair washing ranges from every 2-3 days, 1x per week to every 2-3 weeks......more one sweats or is outside in the elements getting dirt or pollution in hair requires at least weekly washing and maintenance.

wonderbee, BSN, RN

Specializes in critical care; community health; psych.

I agree this is a culturally sensitive issue which is why I came here to post. No one wants to strip her of her dignity by any means. Part of her mental illness is a marked lack of hygiene. As far as we can see, there is no lice. She refuses to wash her hair/scalp though. That is something we want to accomplish with her. Nevertheless, no one is forcing her to do anything. We can only suggest. Thanks for the tips. I have a Sallys nearby.

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

JMHO, I read the links and find it hard to imagine not being able to scrub my head (and all body surfaces) regularly. I get itchy and cranky- usually after more than 24h. The dreads are pretty, but knowing what it takes to keep them makes me itch. The links say you wash Q1-2 weeks, does anyone here agree with that?

Pocahontas98_21

Has 2 years experience.

Not every person washes their hair everyday or every other. People with dry hair has to build up the natrual oils and so washs their hair once a week (not just people with dreadlocks).

wonderbee, BSN, RN

Specializes in critical care; community health; psych.

Yeah, I think the daily hair washing thing is a bit much. I'll talk to the new resident who comes on on Monday to have the order changed to something more appropriate like 1x/week. Really though, it doesn't matter what the order says. The patient is going to wash her hair when she is ready in the absence of lice. We'll continue to urge her.

JMHO, I read the links and find it hard to imagine not being able to scrub my head (and all body surfaces) regularly. I get itchy and cranky- usually after more than 24h. The dreads are pretty, but knowing what it takes to keep them makes me itch. The links say you wash Q1-2 weeks, does anyone here agree with that?

What do you mean by "what it takes to keep them"?

Yeah, I think the daily hair washing thing is a bit much. I'll talk to the new resident who comes on on Monday to have the order changed to something more appropriate like 1x/week. Really though, it doesn't matter what the order says. The patient is going to wash her hair when she is ready in the absence of lice. We'll continue to urge her.

I agree with shampooing at least 1x/wk. Hopefully your patient gets better and maintains adequate hygiene.

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