Hair relaxers are a common way to straighten and soften curly or kinky hair. However, due to the chemicals in the relaxer, the popular hair treatment may cause injury, especially if not applied correctly.

Although many hair relaxer injuries occur on the skin and scalp, hair relaxer is responsible for more serious injuries, which you can find out more here. Here are some potential injuries that are associated with using hair relaxers. 

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are one of the most common injuries caused by hair relaxers. These burns can occur when the relaxer is left on too long or applied to already damaged hair. 

Signs of a chemical burn can include redness, itching, and stinging sensations around the scalp and ears. In more serious cases, blistering may occur which can lead to scabbing and permanent scarring. 

To avoid accidental chemical burns, always wear protective clothing, like gloves, and always read instructions closely while paying attention to how long the product has been on your hair.

Scalp Irritation and Allergic Reactions

There are two main types of hair relaxers: lye-based (alkaline) formulas and no-lye (non-alkaline) formulas. 

Lye-based products contain sodium hydroxide as an active ingredient that helps break down proteins in your strands for maximum straightness. However, it also carries more significant risks of irritation or damage if left on too long or applied incorrectly due to its strong alkalinity level. 

No-lye products contain guanidine carbonate instead, which has less potential for scalp irritation but may require more frequent applications than lye-based ones since it doesn’t penetrate as deeply into your strands’ protein structures when compared with lye-based formulas.

Some users may experience an allergic reaction to certain ingredients found in hair relaxers. Adverse reactions to the product may include puffiness, hives, excessive itchiness, rashes, redness, or shedding of the skin in areas near where it was applied. 

If you notice any symptoms after using a hair relaxer, it’s important to discontinue use right away to prevent permanent damage to your scalp and hair follicles.

In some severe cases, users may have trouble breathing due to swelling of the airways.

Hair Loss

Using hair relaxers for an extended period can lead to hair loss. Due to the harsh chemicals in hair relaxers, overusing the treatment can result in brittle and dry hair, excessive shedding resulting in bald patches, and even permanent hair loss.

Hair loss is also more common when hair relaxers are used with hair irons, tight hairstyles, and certain brushing techniques.

Eye Irritation and Burns

Irritation and chemical burns to the eye are potential risks when strands of hair coated with relaxer fall into your eyes or the relaxer splashes in or around the eyes. 

As a precaution, contact wearers should avoid wearing contacts when using hair relaxers. Protective eyewear can help prevent accidental chemical burns or irritation to your eyes.

Certain Cancers

Studies suggest that women who use hair relaxers for an extended period, and with regular use, have an increased risk of certain cancers. Health professionals believe that hair relaxer treatments play a significant role in uterine, ovarian, endometrial, ovarian and breast cancers.

Additionally, women who use hair relaxers may have an increased risk of uterine fibroids and endometriosis.

Final Thoughts

Although hair relaxer treatments continue to be a popular choice for decades, there are always potential risks related to using hair relaxers. Injuries to the scalp and skin can occur even when users take all the necessary precautions and read directions carefully.

Other more serious injuries occur due to misuse and user error. More severe and life-altering injuries are likely to happen when women use relaxers for an extended period and frequently. 

To avoid personal injuries related to hair relaxers, it’s essential to read all information before using, discontinue use if you experience irritation, consider hair relaxing alternatives, and always keep the product out of reach of small children.