Can a visit to the hair salon cause persistent headache, fever and even diarrhoea? I thought I would share my experience with you so that you can take preventive measures especially when you expect a long stay at a hair salon.
Right now as I’m typing this, I’ve only been able to stay awake for 2 to 3 hours per block before headache forces me into bed. And it has been going on for 6 days. I couldn’t do anything productive during this entire week. Even trading positions I’ve placed before the salon visit were left un-monitored despite the price alerts being triggered.
Here’s how it all happened.
A Prolonged Stay at Hair Salon
I visited the hair salon for a hair colouring job, which typically would not last more than 3 hours. However, my visit coincided with the period when Singapore entered Phase 2 Reopening from Covid-19 Pandemic. Malls started reopening and people could start dining-in at restaurants.
As such, there was more motivation for people to start looking good again, as compared to when they were mostly stuck at home.
My normal operandi as a contrarian is to wait for everyone to go do what they want, before I join in so as to avoid the crowds. However, this hair appointment was booked a month ago (in May 2020) before Singapore announced the “grand reopening”. I had then booked in advance to secure the latest possible slot before my stored value card expires in end June 2020. But I think I made a mistake.
Busy Salon, Busy Stylists, Busy Salon Assistant
I was advised by the stylist to take up the first slot on Monday – at 11am – which I thought would be a lull period. However, it proved otherwise.
The stylist was attending to at least three other customers during my stay. And this inevitably prolonged the time I needed to be at the salon. To set the context, my hair colouring wasn’t a complicated job. I didn’t request for ombre, sombre, balayage or ecaille. Heck! I didn’t even get the chance to mention what base colour I would be getting before the stylist came out with the mixture and started slathering it generously over my hair and scalp.
To be honest, I only knew what base colour I was getting after the job was done. It was disappointing to get a black base because I would never get a black base done at a hair salon. That is the easiest colour to DIY, and the most boring colour since I’m born with black hair. Black also doesn’t work well for super-thick hair, as it makes them look more chunky.
Thankfully, the highlight was slightly reddish. Though it’s not my favourite hair colour, I will learn to embrace it. Anyway, I’ve digressed.
3 Hours Hair Colouring Job turned into 5
When a hair stylist attends to multiple customers at the same time, something has to give. I found myself waiting longer than usual during each process, such as letting the dye solution sit on my hair or with the thermal steamer placed around my head.
But what felt the most uncomfortable was when I was asked to lie down at the sink-bed for an extended period, probably close to an hour or more. The main reason for the discomfort was the coldness. This portion of the salon happened to be the most chilly corner. Even the staff mentioned how cold the place was.
But I had to lie there, motionless with my hair wet and the cool minty treatment on my scalp, plus the air con blasting down at me. It was cold on cold on cold.
Why was I left at the Salon Sink for so long?
The stylist did come and check on the colour a couple of times, but said it had not absorbed fully. So he left to attend to his other customer, while I laid there shivering and chattering non-stop. In that position, I couldn’t swipe my phone and keep myself entertained. The only thing I could do was to close my eyes and bear with the cold.
The assistant was also serving a few customers at the same time in between the shampoo, scalp and hair treatments. Even in the midst of massaging my head, she was ordered to leave me to assist his stylist who was serving another customer.
Hair Stylist: “Assistant, come help me!”
Salon Assistant who was massaging my head appeared flustered: “Er….later.”
Hair Stylist: “Later, then no need to come already.”
Salon Assistant apologized to me and rushed over to assist the stylist.
This break in massage happened twice. Eventually, I didn’t get a complete massage. But by then, all I wanted was to get off the freezing sink area. It’s definitely not enjoyable to receive a massage when your body is struggling to keep its temperature in check.
I hardly ever wanted to bother anyone, but I couldn’t take it anymore and requested for a blanket or towel. But unfortunately, during Covid-19, such arrangement cannot be acceded to which I fully understand. And which means, I just had to bear with the cold. Can I emphasize again how torturous it felt especially to someone who has low body fat? There were at least two or three air con vents directly above me.
My pinkie went numb. Normally when that happens, it means my body is breaking down. This happened when I was drenched in Taroko National Park for hours, and hiking up New Zealand’s Mount Tongariro on a rainy day. On both occasions, I fell sick thereafter.
Where’s the Covid-19 Precautions?
During time of pandemic when safe distancing is important, I felt uncomfortable lying at the full-house sink area, as the distance between customers was closer than at the seating area. Furthermore, everyone was lying down with their head placed at the same position – height and latitude.
To lie there for an hour directly under the aircon vents definitely didn’t feel like the safest place to be in times like this.
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Furthermore, when each stylist and assistant attends to 3 to 4 other customers, that inevitably increases the potential virus exposure to each customer.
The Symptoms – Fever, Diarrhoea, Headache, Neck Pain
When I left the salon at 4pm, I was cold and hungry and quickly headed for my late lunch. My body guided me towards a hot bowl of Lor Mee.
But I felt malaise when I reached home. I found myself lying on the floor trying to catch a nap. It was uncomfortable and I hardly take naps. But I was that tired.
In case you wonder why I didn’t sleep on the bed, that’s because I hadn’t taken a shower. Don’t wanna dirty the bed, you know? :)
Once I felt slightly better after the nap, my body then told me to take a long hot shower, which I had the temperature turned to the maximum. And for dinner, I had a hot bowl of soup noodle and a steaming hot drink. For info, I hardly take hot drinks. My body seemed to be signaling me to do what was necessary to prevent it from breaking down.
And then, I went to bed before midnight, which is something very rare in my sleeping history. I was surprised I could fall asleep easily even though I just woke up from my nap a while ago.
Drowsiness & Weakness on Day 2 after Hair Salon Visit
On the next day, I couldn’t get out of bed until 11am, about three hours past my normal waking hours. Even with the longer sleeping hours, I found myself in a tired and drowsy state, unable to focus on any tasks on hand.
Simple tasks required significant cognitive efforts to understand and execute. I also walked much slower than my usual pace due to overall weakness. To allow me to get through the day, I had to take an afternoon nap, which is something out of the norm based on my routine.
Chill, Fever & Headache on Day 3
On the third day, I found myself shutting down the PC in the middle of a business day and heading into bed. My body was aching all over and the headache made it hard for me to open my eyes.
Once I lay on the bed, I started shivering under the blanket. My feet and hands went cold which was unusual.
When I woke up, I took my temperature. It hovered above 38 degree Celsius and I was officially having a fever. As such, I had to miss my mom’s birthday celebration. That made me quite sad, but I had to play it safe to protect her and other family members.
Persistent Headache & Neck Pain after Hair Salon Visit
The fever subsided by the end of Day 3, but the headache persisted and worsened, rendering me unproductive till now (Day 6). As mentioned, I could only stay awake for 2 to 3 hours per block before headache would return. It was so bad I couldn’t even watch a show.
See how my sleeping hours took a sharp increase after the visit to the salon. Unfortunately, those extra hours do not translate to a good rest or a more alert state.
On top of the severe headache, my neck hurts! Specifically, the back of my head – the part between the bottom of the skull and neck – started aching badly on Day 6. Actually, the pain started on Day 3, but would only affect me when I lowered my head to read a book (I could only finish one paragraph before giving up).
But on Day 6, the neck pain started intensifying even when I’m doing nothing or just resting on the bed. It then dawned on me that all these symptoms that I’m experiencing could have been caused by prolonged arching of my neck against the sink wash for too long.
Unusual form of Diarrhoea from Day 3
I also started having diarrhoea on Day 3 which was mild and painless initially (only once in the morning), but started to get worse as the days go by to include abdominal pain and more runs to the toilet. However, this diarrhoea differs from normal diarrhoea I’ve experienced as it would stop by noon. Although the maximum run to the toilet is 2-3 times per day, the intense abdominal pain would put me right into bed after each session.
I’m taking a pause right now (Day 6) as I’m typing this because a new symptom is developing – I’m feeling nauseous. I just took out a plastic bag in case I vomit.
Now, could these symptoms be due to food poisoning than a prolonged stay at a hair salon? That’s a possibility but I think it’s not. So far, I’ve not had food poisoning that cause diarrhoea to take place at a specific time of the day. Also, my family members who took the same food as me were diarrhoea-free.
It may sound far-fetch to link diarrhoea with a salon visit, but based on the timeline of events, everything started going downhill immediately after my visit to the salon. I think I can trust my own experience and intuition about how the events unfold chronologically.
Beauty Parlour Syndrome
Heard of Beauty Parlour Syndrome? It seems plausible that the headache, neck pain and general malaise were caused by prolonged compression on the back of my neck against the sink wash? Apparently, one man suffered a stroke after getting his hair washed at a salon. He also had headache and fainting spells before the stroke!
Ok, now I’m beginning to worry.
“We have probably all felt uncomfortable awkwardly craning our necks backwards over a cold sink rim to have our hair washed at the hairdressers. But very few people are aware that this process can limit the supply of blood to the brain and may lead to an eventual stroke.
Experts believe that the very process of pushing the neck backwards and holding it there for a prolonged period can stretch the arteries in the neck responsible for supplying blood, oxygen and nutrients to vital brain structures. On rare occasions this overextension can cut or tear the arteries which may lead to blood clots and strokes.
Just like that man, I didn’t feel any neck discomfort when resting my neck at the rim of the salon sink (remember, I couldn’t even feel my pinkie). But it doesn’t mean the damage wasn’t being done.
That being said, Beauty Parlour Syndrome is a rare occurrence. As long as salon takes the necessary precautions, such as not keeping customers in that position for too long, most should be fine having a quick hair wash at the sink bed/chair.
Unfortunately, mine made me stay at the sink for way too long. And half of the time, my neck was not supported because I was left unattended.
Sharp Increase in Heart Rate after visiting Hair Salon
Look at the chart below – you can see a sharp rise in my Resting Heart Rate since Monday’s visit to the hair salon.
In just one week, my Resting Heart Rate went up from an average of 65 to 74 beats per minute. Based on Fitbit, such increase can result in a higher risk of heart attacks and stroke.
My body is indeed going through some changes and I will have to monitor it closely
Precautions when visiting a Hair Salon
I’m not feeling well now (pass the 3-hour mark), so I’ll end this with some quick precautions.
If you visit a hair salon:
- Avoid lying at the sink wash for prolonged period. Make sure you are there just for a wash and not to wait for colour to absorb etc. That’s not a pillow you are resting on, but a rim around the neck.
- Avoid having the hair dye on your hair for extended period. Be assertive even if the hair stylist appears busy. Because you are not supposed to be exposed to such chemicals and fumes for extended period
- Avoid salons that care about profits more than your well-being. Such pandemic can reveal true colours.
And lastly, here’s a video for you:
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(This post was first published on 27 June 2020)
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