Detangle Matted Hair

Matted long hair
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Q: My question is if you would know of anything you could do for someone who was laying in a hospital bed for approximately three weeks and has a "MASSIVE" ball of matted hair. I've tried to talk her into cutting it, but that's out. If you have any suggestions or ideas please let me know. Thanks.
A: Well, depending on the texture and wave pattern of the hair (as well as its condition) you may be fighting a losing battle with each passing day. If a person has curly hair that is coarser in texture, and that hair becomes matted or tangled, you have to use a LOT of care to remove the tangle without losing hairs.
The danger you face is that since many very curly hair types behaving in the same way as other curly natural fibers the hair can become matted more and more tightly, until the hair becomes "felted" into a compact, dense tangled mass. Generally if the hair becomes felted, the ONLY option is to cut the hair off)
However, provided the matted mass isn't too far gone, here is something you can try. Get a bottle of detangling spray, spray oil, or if you need something thicker, olive oil. Olive oil is great if the hair is very dry or damaged. Lay the matted mass in your palm and apply the detangling spray or oil until the hair is fully saturated. DO NOT MASSAGE the substance into the hair as this will only encourage further matting.
Use a wide tooth comb and gently start at the bottom "end" of the matted hair and try to work some of the hairs free from the matted mass. If this shows progress continue as far as you can until the hair is again free and loose.
In some cases, using oils/detanglers and a wide-tooth comb aren't enough. For more tangled masses, you may need to make a cut to loosen the hair a little without removing a lot of the hair. To do this, take your scissors and direct them toward the scalp, cutting three-quarters of the way through the matted mass directly down the center.
If this reveals inner hairs that are not already coated with detangling liquid or oil, be sure to apply more. Once you've made this cut and applied more detangler or oil as needed, continue working with the wide-tooth comb to loose and free the hairs.
Make additional "cuts" as needed, but be careful to only cut as deeply in toward the scalp as is absolutely necessary. This will let you hopefully avoid removing more than a minimal amount of the hair, while removing all of the tangled mass. Just remember to work slowly and gently. The only quick solution to this kind of problem is to cut the mass out of the hair completely.
See also:
How to get rid of tangled hair
How to minimize post-shampoo detangling
Hair care for bedridden individuals