"Turns out brushing, curling, braiding, or drying can cause nerve stimulation on the scalp and cause some children to have seizure-like symptoms," Alicia Brown Phillips explained.
A woman from Tennessee is trying to raise awareness about a rare condition that affects kids and gets triggered by simply combing their hair. Known as hair-grooming syncope, it is a condition that is almost unheard of. Alicia Brown Phillips, a mom of three, took to Facebook to share the scary episode she had when she saw her little sister experience seizure-like symptoms out of the blue.
On a Sunday morning, Philips was curling 10-year-old Gracie Brown's hair and styling it for church. "I was maybe about five minutes in and she starts to gag a little and looks kind of pale," she wrote in the now-viral post. "I asked her if she was going to get sick and she shook her head yes. I get my little daughters out of the bathroom and start to hold her hair up for her as she leans over the toilet. Thirty seconds later... she looks at me. She is extremely pale with blue lips and starts to pass out. Her pupils got really big and I caught her."
She then screamed for her husband to come help. By now, her younger sister has a blank stare on her face and had also become completely unresponsive. Philips said that Gracie went limp for about a minute and her hands were also shaking. "Very seizure-like," she explained. "She then comes back to and says she feels much better. She says she remembers hearing us talk but couldn’t see us. I was crying. She was very confused." Their parents then rushed to Philips' house and they took Gracie to the Children’s hospital where took an EKG and a head scan.
"She is fine," Philips wrote in the post and continued, "Turns out there is something called hair-grooming syncope that affects kids from ages five - 13. They said they see about 1-5 cases a year. Turns out brushing, curling, braiding, or drying can cause nerve stimulation on the scalp and cause some children to have seizure-like symptoms. I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THIS BEFORE!" Syncope is the medical term for fainting or losing consciousness for a short period of time. Hair-grooming syncope is when you faint while your hair is being groomed, according to Healthline.
Gracie's family were told if she ever starts to feel nauseous or light-headed while getting her hair brushed, she should sit down and take a break. "I am putting this out there for others to see," Philips said about sharing the lengthy Facebook post that was shared over 224k since it was first shared. "If a kid ever complains of their belly hurting or feeling lightheaded while they are getting their hair done, make sure they take a seat and keep a close eye on them! Apparently very rare but so scary to see it happen!"
Hair-Grooming Syncope is a "benign form of neurocardiogenic reflex syncope" experienced by children. Hair combing and brushing results in higher syncope amongst girls. While boys suffer increased syncope during hair cutting. #psycholinguistics— AJ1 (@AJ176743218) April 1, 2020
doi: 10.1177/0009922809339204 pic.twitter.com/eqFAnIVK7A
According to research, it is a condition that affects more girls than boys. It looked at 1525 patients with syncope out of whom 111 had a hair-grooming trigger determined as a cause. And out of these 111 patients, 78% were girls. It was noted that boys experiencing syncope did so during hair cutting, whereas girls experienced syncope mostly during hair combing and brushing. "The hair-grooming trigger appears to stimulate a benign form of neurocardiogenic reflex syncope," the research concluded. The study also stated: "Electrocardiograms and echocardiograms were performed as part of syncope evaluation and no significant abnormalities were found in either test in this patient group."
Santa Monica-based dermatologist Sonia Batra told Good Morning America, "Hair-grooming syncope is a similar response to people who faint from having their blood drawn or at the sight of blood. We think it is the same vagus nerve response that causes the drop in blood pressure, and hence the blackouts, in all of these situations."
Had a blast presenting an update our work identifying connectomic and electrophysiological biomarkers of response to vagus nerve stimulation at #2019PedsSection— Karim Mithani (@KarimMithaniMD) December 9, 2019
Incredibly grateful to our team at @SickKidsNews and collaborators from across North America @PedsSection pic.twitter.com/Bbr4wHzEEz