Can dreadlocks irritate eczema?

Can your eczema get aggravated if you're up close and personal with someone with dreadlocks? I found out first hand...

As I've mentioned on this blog before, my boyfriend has dreadlocks. Here he is. Isn't he gorgeous? It's not a great photo of me as my skin was pretty bad at that point. I had to go a whole metal festival without wearing any eyeliner because I had eczema on my face. Wah! But anyway, the photo shows Arron's dreads in all their glory. They never smell or anything - he's a very clean person, and I do love them (and him) rather a lot.

When we first started seeing each other my skin was fine, and then pretty rapidly, my eczema went terrible! And I also got an eye infection. However, this also coincided with me moving into a new place, and it's just as likely that the change in environment was the trigger. My skin has settled down an awful lot since then - and now we live together, so the dreads can't have been the cause.

However, recently I have been helping to 're-knit' Arron's dreads (you use a tiny crochet hook) and I noticed the skin on my hands got irritated pretty quickly. Probably a combination of my hands simply rubbing against the scratchy surface of the dreads, and also of the skin particles that are contained within dreads. My ingenious solution is to cut a hole in an old tea towel and pull the dread that I am working on through it so that my hands rest against the cloth not his hair. This also makes him looks very stylish :)

To reduce any skin irritation from dreads, wash them every few months with bicarbonate of soda, taking care to really wash the dreads themselves as well as the scalp. It takes a bit of drying afterwards - but it's worth it.

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  1. Hi! I have been an eczema sufferer for many years too. My skin was in terrible condition and I was using a lot of steroid creams. I didn't like using them as I was aware of some of the dangers, but every time I tried to stop using them my skin just got worse and worse. Eventually my GP told me to stop using hydrocortisone on my face because I had damaged my skin.
    I did some research online and found this website, and read the report on there by Dr. Rapaport. http://kellypalace61.web.officelive.com/default.aspx
    It's scary reading, but it made sense of everything I was going through. Everything about my skin condition started to make sense.
    I quit using steroid creams six weeks ago. Since then I've had two major flare ups and my life has been absolute hell, but I am determined to get through the withdrawal. I may have a long way to go, and I am prepared for it...
    From experience I can say that topical steroids have made my skin far more sensitive and prone to flare up than it ever was before, and if you have ever used steroids for your eczema, the research by Dr. Rapaport is worth a read.
    Good luck with your quest to find gentle skin products, and thanks for your indormative and interesting blog.
    p.s. Your boyfriend has lovely dreadlocks by the way. :)

  2. Oh interesting - my boyfriend has dreads too! I haven't had any problems, but I'm not prone to eczema.

  3. Belated thanks for the comments guys :)

  4. This is really interesting because I have dreads and my boyfriend has started to get really bad eye infections every time we fall asleep together. He also has eczema and it's gotten worse (but it's also winter and it get's worse in winter). I don't know what to do. I'm thinking it's my tea tree shampoo, but I also hadn't washed my hair for about 2 months when we first started dating...
    What should I do?

  5. Hi Kirdy. Get your boyfriend to go to the docs for his eye infections - I was told to get golden eye ointment, and for his eczema. Wash all your bedding, night clothes and towels and wash your dreads too before you next spend time together. We have since discovered this residue free dread shampoo from Dread Head which seems pretty good. Your boyfriend could also try a very dilute bleach bath to get his eczema under control: http://www.sensitiveskinsurvival.com/2011/04/eczema-bleach-bath-review.html

    I hope it gets better, I'm sure it will. I used to rest my head on Arron's dreads a lot but I don't do that any more, you could try sleeping in one of those head wrap things if you like to rest your head on his shoulder? x

  6. Hi, just started following you on Twitter and thought I'd have a snoop about your blog. I spy your Bloodstock lanyard; another metal head who has eczema - yay! Haha. I find that because my eczema has deteriorated so much I can't camp any more. The heat and humidity of the tent, alongside not being able to carry out my strict routines means that I'm no longer able to experience the proper festival atmosphere. But as I've been going to Bloodstock since 2006, I can't just give that up! Last year, and indeed this year, I am hotel-ing it :) do you have any problems with festivals?

    & to answer your question: Could it be more that it's the texture of the dreads that were causing flares?


  7. Just checked out your blog too - oh your skin looks so sore! I really hope it gets better for you soon. My skin was giving me real trouble that year but it is quite a lot better now.

    I am indeed a metal head - this is my band :) http://www.facebook.com/severedheaven
    Don't go to many festivals though tba, too picky haha.

    And yes I think you are right about the texture of the dreads, but there are a lot of skin particles trapped in them too. We cut them last year (just a 6 inch trim!) and you could see the dust in their core. We have got some dread shampoo for him now though, which is good stuff.

    Have followed your blog, stay in touch - Charlotte x



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