Twisted & Knotted Hair

Young girl with long hair
Photo: Juliaki/Shutterstock
Q: My 7-year-old grand-daughter has hair past her waist. She swam for 2 days at a friend's place, with her hair in a bun. It's a massive knot clear to her scalp. We've worked on it 3 days with NO luck. No beginning, no end, just a clump of twisted, knotted hair. We can't even stick the end of a comb or a pick thru it.
We've tried everything, cream rinse, oil, hot water, brushing, picking, nothing helps. It won't give. Is there anything you can suggest or do you know of a salon in Phoenix, AZ, that may be able to help up? PLEASE. We are desperate and an emotional wreck. Thanks.

A: First of all, I'm very sorry that your granddaughter is experiencing this problem. It sounds as though the chlorine in the pool has swelled the cuticle layer of the hair and the tightly wound bun has combined with the swelling to create a tangled mess.
My first suggestion is to get a spray-in detangler and a smoothing/anti-frizz serum and apply them liberally to the hair, then working from the ends of the hair upward, use a wide-tooth comb to separate the hair carefully.
I am concerned about the number of things you already tried unsuccessfully. If the child's hair has a coarse texture to start with, and any wave to it, there's the chance that the hair could become "felted" if it isn't already.
See also:
The effect of chlorine on hair
How to get rid of tangled hair
How to detangle matted hair
Matted hair