A Consultant Dermatologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Dr. Uche Ojinmah, has asked parents, especially mothers to exercise caution in the use of beads in making children’s hair, noting that it could cause serious health issues.
The expert warned that children may not only swallow the beads but could also put them inside their ear or nose, adding that such cases are already been seen in hospitals.
Some of such cases, he said, have been presented at the UNTH with recurrent ear pain, and pus in the ear, adding that some of the patients even went on to develop meningitis from the infection the bead caused in their ear and their parents are not aware.
Dr. Ojinmah, who is the current President of the Nigerian Medical Association, stated this during an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise.
He noted that mothers should start considering braiding their children’s hair without putting beads on them.
The dermatologist explained,
“Women should braid their children’s hair and should not put beads when they braid the hair because it may easily slip into their ear and you may not know that the bead has gone into the ear.
“We have had cases of children presenting in UNTH with recurrent ear pain, pus in the ear and some even went on to develop meningitis from the infection the bead caused in the ear and people didn’t know.
“So, we discourage beads from children’s hair because it can go into the ear and they can also swallow it when they pull it from the hair.
“Braiding is good and should not be tight but should be without beads. Children can remove beads on their hair and put them inside their noses or ear.
“And when it is inside the nose or ear you will not know. It becomes what is called a foreign body and it becomes a centre for infection.
“We have had a case where my friend, who is an ear, nose and throat surgeon, had to remove a bead in the ear of a child which had been there for a long time.
“And this child developed an infection from there. The child developed an infection of the brain, the one we call meningitis and the parents never knew that the problem was a bead inside the child’s ear.
“Until they brought out that bead, the problem of the child could not be resolved.”
According to him, the child was having convulsions, fever, and headache. He said:
“They may put the bead inside the nose and they will be having a smelly discharge. if you don’t go to check, you may not find out that bead is there. So, we do not encourage beads on the hair of children. Plain braiding is okay.”
Dr. Ojinmah also urged mothers to avoid applying strong relaxers to their children’s hair, saying it could lead to burns on the scalp and then damage the hair.
The dermatologist noted,
“Applying strong relaxers on children’s hair can cause burns on the scalp and can cause hair loss.
Mothers must use very low-strength relaxers when it has to do with children. They should avoid very strong relaxers. Different types of hair textures determine the type of relaxers that are used.
The dangers that come is burning of the scalp which can be serious, it can also cause pain over the scalp and it can cause hair loss.
If the burn is too deep, it can lead to permanent hair loss with a scar over the area. It will not grow back again. But if the burn is superficial, the hair will grow back.
It can also make the hair start cutting and falling off in some instances. I know a lot of people that have permanent hair loss that started from using a relaxer.”
I would advocate grooming of the hair of young people. Children are better off having their hair groomed. Combining it regularly, applying hair cream, and braiding is okay and the braiding should not be too tight.”
In a 2018 article published in PMC Journal titled, “Will children ever learn? Removal of nasal and aural foreign bodies: a study of hospital episode statistics,” the authors said foreign body removal is a common reason for young children to present to the emergency department.
“In children, this is most frequently due to toys, sweets and rocks; however in adults, cotton earbuds are a leading cause.
“Children are more likely to present to the hospital than adults with a foreign body in the ear or nose. Aural bodies were more likely to need removal in hospitals for both populations.
“Authors believe that these require identification and removal by an ear, nose and throat specialist to prevent morbidity,”
the study said.