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Lupus SLE and Hair Breakage

Q: I have Lupus SLE, my hair "breaks" in different places often. What are the best ways to care for my hair? Do you trim the hair that breaks or let it be?
 
A: Well, your first line of defense is going to be following the treatment plan set by your doctor and consulting with him or her when there are changes in your condition. Keeping your symptoms managed and suppressed can help you to avoid the more severe flares that result in the worst of the breakage/loss cycles.
 
      The next stage is conditioning the hair daily. Keeping the moisture levels sufficient and the cuticle smooth will help prevent daily styling stresses from causing added problems and exacerbating the fragility caused by the Lupus. Use a good moisture-rich conditioner daily, even when you don’t shampoo (and you should really only shampoo the hair when it is dirty or if it is excessively oily). Most people find that the use of a rinse-through conditioner is sufficient to cleanse the hair of an average day’s soil without shampoo.
 
      I do know of a couple of women who have SLE and one of them opted to cut her hair off into a short and sassy hairstyle – for several reasons, not least of which was the breakage and fragility caused by her SLE – and has been thrilled with the result. She says it is easier to care for, and not having long hair to wash, dry and style means she doesn’t have to spend so much time on her hair (dealing with pain levels from Lupus) or else look like she didn’t put in the effort to look her best. For her, it was a great choice.
 
      The other friend opted not to go short. She did, switch from a bob to a layered style, so that the breakage would be less apparent when it occurred, and she tries to use styling methods that offer long-lasting results that are less stressful on the hair (such as wrapping her hair on sponge rollers and letting the hair dry on its own, or under a cool hair dryer).
 
      The bottom line is that the choice to cut the hair or not is still going to be an esthetic choice, although there are benefits to some types of cutting when dealing with the worst of SLE-related hair symptoms. You should consider the amounts of breakage you have and how it affects the overall look of the style you have. If you think cutting the hair will help you hide the breakage, talk with your stylist about looks that can both camouflage the breakage and be flattering to your face.
 
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