There’s no arguing that man buns are a thing that’s happening. Whether you love them or hate them, there they are. Happening all over the place. If they’re your thing, hakuna matata, my friend. If they’re not, also hakuna matata because that phrase sort of works in either scenario. However it appears that man buns should come with a caveat – they might lead to hairless patches on your scalp, and infections.
According to an article recently published by Men’s Fitness, the man bun is unarguably trendy at the moment, but the physics of the hairstyle may actually cause a handful of problems for the wearer. Because of the nature of the style, when drawn into a tight bun, there is a severe amount of pressure put on the scalp. This pressure can actually lead to hair follicles being torn out of the scalp, and leaving behind hairless patches on the wearer’s head. This is referred to as “traction alopecia”, or “ripping your own hair out of your scalp”, and can end up causing permanent damage and hairloss. As disconcerting as that thought is, there is another potential hazard that comes along with tension on the scalp that is equally troubling.
“Traction folliculitis” is a condition in which the tension caused by hairstyles that pull too tightly on the scalp can actually lead to lesions and a slew of other skin related issues. A report published in 2007 written by Gary N. Fox, MD, Julie M. Stausmire, MSN, CNS, and Darius R. Mehregan, MD entitled “Traction Folliculitis: An Underreported Entity” lays out medical and scientific research regarding the potential damage caused by high-tension hairstyles. Yes, that’s correct. A bunch of doctors basically studied why man buns and ponytails are bad for your health. The report indicates that “traction folliculitis presents as perifollicular erythema and pustules on the scalp.”
I went to journalism school, not med school, so that whole sentence basically reads like Dothraki to me. For those of you reading this that are doctors, you can skip ahead to the next paragraph since you’re up to speed already, or you can double check my explanation and make sure I’m correct. For the rest of you, I did some Googling and figured out that “perifollicular erythema” essentially means a superficial reddening of the skin caused by injury or irritation, and resulting in dilatation of blood capillaries in the tissue surrounding a follicle. And “pustules” are exactly what you think they are – large swollen red bumps filled with pus or other fluid.
Treatment for the issues vary, and according to the report, can involve “immediate removal of traction on hair and temporary alteration of the facilitatory hair care practices. In more severe cases, topical or systemic antibacterial therapy and, occasionally, topical corticosteroid therapy may be necessary.”
So man bun men, here’s today’s takeaway – try not to yank that bun too tight. Or maybe even consider a cut sometime in the future. Ron Swanson would say “There are three acceptable haircuts – high and tight, crew cut, buzz cut,” but I think there’s plenty of wiggle room. As long as it’s not a Skrillex cut. Then you might have to be sent to the corner to think about what you’ve done.