Braids are a beautiful protective hairstyle for curly and coily girls.
But if they’re braided too tightly or have very sensitive skin, you can develop painful bumps on your scalp.
These can be itchy and uncomfortable.
I know – I have had them.
And if the braids are on too tight, this can also increase the stress and tension on your hair strands and cause hair breakage.
So, in this post, we’ll talk about how these bumps happen and how you can relieve them easily so that you can enjoy your braids without dealing with them.
Let’s dive in!
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Can tight braids cause bumps?
Yes, tight braids can cause painful bumps on the scalp or along the hairline.
These bumps are often called “braid bumps” or “braid-induced bumps.” Here’s why this can happen:
- Tension on the Scalp: When braids are done too tightly, they can exert excessive tension on the hair follicles and the scalp. This tension leads to irritation and inflammation – which causes small bumps or pustules.
- Ingrown Hairs: Tight braids can sometimes cause hairs to become trapped beneath the skin’s surface. This can lead to ingrown hairs, manifesting as painful bumps or pimple-like lesions.
- Folliculitis: Braids that are too tight can also cause a condition called folliculitis, which is the inflammation of hair follicles. This can result in redness, itching, and the formation of small, pus-filled bumps.
Will braid bumps go away on their own?
It’s difficult to say without considering all the factors.
Braid bumps may go away on their own for some people, but it depends on the severity of the issue and how it’s managed. Here are some factors you need to consider:
- Mild Irritation: If the bumps are mild and there is no sign of infection, they may resolve over time once the braids are removed or loosened. This process can take a few days to a few weeks.
- Ingrown Hairs: If the bumps are due to ingrown hairs, they may eventually go away as the hair grows out and the ingrown hair is released. Proper exfoliation and skincare can help in this case.
- Folliculitis: If the bumps result from folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles), they may require more time to heal. Mild cases may improve with time, but severe cases may need medical treatment.
- Traction Alopecia: If the bumps are related to traction alopecia (hair loss due to prolonged tension), the hair loss may be permanent in severe cases. However, in less severe cases, the hair may regrow once the tension is relieved.
My honest suggestion is to treat your bumps and not just let it be – this way, you’re actively doing everything in your power to ease the bumps and make them go away.
So, let’s look into some ways we can get rid of these painful bumps – these are all tried and tested methods.
Here are 7 easy ways to get rid of the painful bumps caused by braids
1. Loosen the braids
This is the most straightforward answer I can give you, and it works.
The reason why you’re getting the bumps is because the braids are too tight.
I used to believe tightening the braids would help my hair grow faster – but that’s not true. There is no proven hair to grow hair faster.
Hair grows at its own pace – all you can do is protect your hair and strengthen your hair follicles so that it doesn’t break and grow long.
But tight braids don’t do us any good.
If the braids are too tight, gently loosen them to relieve tension on the scalp. Avoid pulling or tugging on the hair, which can worsen the condition.
Here’s how you can safely and effectively loosen tight braids:
- Use your fingers: Gently run your fingers along the length of the braids, starting from the roots and moving downward. Apply a little pressure to help release some of the tension.
- Apply oil: Use a light, natural oil like coconut oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil. Apply a small amount to your fingertips and rub it along the length of the braids. The oil can help lubricate the hair and make it easier to manipulate.
- Spray with warm water: Fill a spray bottle with warm water and lightly mist your braids. This can help soften the hair, making it more pliable.
- Use a hair moisturizer: Apply a hair moisturizer or detangling spray to the braids to add moisture and make them more manageable.
- Gently pull apart: Starting from the roots, gently pull the individual sections of the braid apart. Be careful not to tug or pull too hard, which can damage your hair. Work your way down the length of each braid.
2. Switch up your hairstyle
Release immediately if your braids are tied in a high ponytail or very tight bun.
You’re aiming to release any tension on your braids pulling your hair – so loosen your braids from any tight hairstyle.
Doing this will decrease the stress and tension on your hair strands and will help decrease the bumps.
Give your scalp a break from tight hairstyles.
Opt for looser styles or wear your hair down to reduce tension on the affected area.
3. Use a warm compress
Apply a warm, damp cloth or compress to the affected area. This can help reduce inflammation and soothe the pain.
Using a warm compress will help:
- Pain Relief: The warmth from the compress can provide immediate relief by soothing the discomfort and pain associated with the bumps. It can help relax the tense muscles in the scalp and reduce the sensation of pain.
- Increase Blood Circulation: Heat from the warm compress can promote better blood circulation to the affected area. Improved circulation can aid in the body’s natural healing process by delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues, which can help accelerate the healing process.
- Reduce Inflammation: Warmth can help reduce inflammation. In the case of painful bumps caused by braids, inflammation can be a contributing factor. A warm compress can decrease the swelling and redness associated with the bumps.
- Softening Hair and Skin: The heat from the compress can also soften the hair and skin, making it easier to manipulate and reduce tension on the scalp. This can be especially helpful if you plan to loosen or remove the tight braids.
To use a warm compress for painful bumps caused by braids:
- Soak a clean washcloth or small towel in warm (not hot) water.
- Wring out excess water to prevent dripping.
- Fold the damp cloth and apply it gently to the affected area where the bumps are located.
- Leave the compress in place for 10-15 minutes or until it cools.
- Repeat as needed, but be cautious not to make the compress too hot, as it could burn your scalp.
4. Moisturize with a gentle hair product
When moisturizing to help with painful bumps from braids:
- Choose a Suitable Product: Select a gentle, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) moisturizer or oil that is safe for use on the scalp. Look for products free from harsh chemicals, fragrances, and alcohol, which can further irritate the skin.
- Apply Sparingly: Use a small moisturizer and apply it directly to the affected area with more bumps. Gently massage it into the skin, not disturbing the braids too much.
- Avoid Heavy Products: While moisturizing is beneficial, using heavy or greasy products can weigh down your hair and make the scalp feel greasy. Opt for lightweight, non-greasy options.
- Moisturize as Needed: Depending on your scalp’s dryness, you may need to moisturize once or twice daily. Pay attention to your skin’s response and adjust your moisturizing routine accordingly.
Doing this will ease the dryness and soothe your scalp. If you stay in a cold and dry climate, your scalp is prone to dryness – so moisturize a little more.
5. Keep your scalp clean
You need to keep your scalp clean when you’re getting these bumps. You don’t want any product build-up because this is going to worsen the situation.
To keep your scalp clean and promote the healing of painful bumps from braids, follow these steps:
- Gentle Shampooing: Use a mild, sulfate-free shampoo and lukewarm water to cleanse your scalp gently. Avoid harsh shampoos that can strip natural oils and further irritate the skin.
- Massage While Shampooing: Use your fingertips to massage the scalp gently. This can help remove dirt and dead skin cells while improving blood circulation.
- Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly to remove all shampoo residue. Residue can contribute to irritation.
- Pat Dry: After washing, pat your scalp dry with a clean, soft towel. Do not rub too harshly (I used to be guilty of this) as this can irritate the skin.
- Avoid Overwashing: While keeping your scalp clean is essential, avoid excessive washing, as it can strip the scalp of its natural oils and potentially worsen dryness and irritation.
- Use a Sulfate-Free Conditioner: If you use conditioner, choose a sulfate-free, lightweight conditioner that won’t clog your pores or weigh down your hair.
- Maintain Regular Hygiene: Keep your hair and scalp clean and fresh by washing as needed, depending on your hair type and lifestyle. Oily scalps may require more frequent washing, while dry scalps may need less frequent washing.
6. Take topical antibiotics
If you notice that the redness is increasing – there is a chance that the bumps are inflamed and slightly infected.
Here’s how topical antibiotics can be beneficial in such situations:
- Infection Prevention: When tight braids cause irritation or small breaks in the skin, bacteria can enter these openings, leading to infection. Topical antibiotics, such as Neosporin or Polysporin, contain antibacterial agents that can help prevent or treat bacterial infections.
- Reducing Inflammation: Many topical antibiotics also contain anti-inflammatory ingredients, which can help reduce redness, swelling, and pain associated with the bumps. This can provide relief and make the bumps less painful.
- Promoting Healing: Antibiotics can support the body’s natural healing process by controlling bacterial growth and preventing the infection from spreading. This, in turn, can speed up the healing of the affected area.
To use topical antibiotics for painful bumps caused by braids:
- Clean the affected area gently with mild soap and water, then pat it dry.
- Apply a thin layer of the topical antibiotic ointment directly to the bumps or the irritated areas of the scalp.
- Cover the area with a clean, sterile bandage if necessary.
- Follow the instructions on the product’s label for application frequency and duration. Typically, you may need to apply the antibiotic ointment two to three times a day until the bumps improve or as directed by a healthcare professional.
- Be cautious not to use topical antibiotics for an extended period without consulting a healthcare provider, as this can lead to antibiotic resistance.
While topical antibiotics can be beneficial for addressing infection and inflammation, it’s please consult a dermatologist if you suspect an infection or if the bumps are causing severe pain or discomfort.
They will tell you what treatment to follow and give you some tips, which may include oral antibiotics.
7. Get rid of the braids
Some hairstyles just don’t agree with us.
If the bumps aren’t going away and the pain is too unbearable – the braids need to go.
Having so much pain for long isn’t normal – it’s a sign that your scalp is not able to take the stress of the braids.
I know you’ve spent a lot of time getting them done, and I understand how frustrated you must feel with all the time and money you spent – but your comfort and health are more important right now.
And if you’ve done everything to relieve the tension but your bumps aren’t going away – chances are the braids are just too tight or they’re just not agreeing with you and your scalp is just not able to cope.
In this case, I highly recommend removing the braids and giving your hair a much-needed break from all tight hairstyles.
Just leave it be and let it loose so that it can recover.
And while your hair is healing – continue to moisturize your hair and pamper it so that your scalp and hair recover well.
How to prevent painful bumps caused by braids?
Okay, so if you want to make sure the bumps don’t happen again in the future, here are a few precautions you can take.
- Talk to your hairstylist: Before getting your hair braided, talk to your stylist and braider about your concerns regarding tightness and potential discomfort. Tell them if you have any pre-existing skin conditions. Make sure they understand your preferences for a comfortable yet secure style.
- Choose a Skilled Braider: Select someone experienced and skilled in creating protective styles like braids. An experienced braider is less likely to create overly tight braids that can lead to pain and discomfort. They will have had so many clients, that they’ll know what to expect on seeing your hair texture.
- Looser Braids: Ask for looser braids during your styling session. Looser braids are less likely to cause tension and discomfort on your scalp.
- Avoid Excessive Tension: If you feel that the braids are being pulled too tightly while they’re being installed, speak up and ask your braider to adjust the tension. It’s crucial to prioritize your comfort and scalp health.
- Use Protective Styling Methods: Consider using protective styling methods like wearing a silk or satin bonnet or scarf while you sleep to protect your braids and reduce friction on your scalp.
- Maintain Scalp Hygiene: Keep your scalp clean and well-moisturized to prevent dryness, flaking, and irritation. Avoid using products that can clog your pores or cause buildup on your scalp.
- Avoid Excessive Styling Products: Limit the use of heavy styling products, as they can weigh down your hair and cause strain on your scalp. Opt for lightweight, oil-free products if needed.
- Take Breaks Between Styles: Give your scalp time to rest and recover between protective styles. Avoid constantly wearing tight braids back-to-back, and opt for looser styles or wearing your natural hair out for a while.
- Monitor Your Scalp: Regularly check your scalp for any signs of discomfort, bumps, or irritation. If you notice any issues, take action promptly.
- Consult a Dermatologist: If you experience persistent or severe pain, discomfort, or recurring bumps despite taking preventive measures, consult a dermatologist. They can provide personalized advice and treatments to address your specific concerns.
Please remember that everyone’s scalp is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another.
It’s essential to listen to your body and prioritize your scalp health and comfort when getting braids or other protective styles.
By taking these preventive measures and being proactive, you can reduce the likelihood of painful bumps caused by braids.
I hope this helps!
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