The world over, headaches are as common as the common cold. But there is one type of headache only Indians suffer from: a “hair wash” migraine. Hair washing is a common trigger for migraines among Indian women, reports Mumbai-based neurologist Dr K Ravishankar in Cephalalgia, the Journal of the International Headache Society.
Hair wash migraine — described as headaches that start after a ‘head bath’ — is India’s unique contribution to medical literature on migraine triggers. “Long hair washed two to three times a week and plaited while wet causes a gradual build up of pain that can lead to a migraine,” says Ravishankar, who heads the headache and migraine clinics at Jaslok and Lilavati hospitals respectively. Blow-drying one’s hair after washing it lowers the risk of this type of migraine.
Ravishankar’s study analysed the trigger link in 94 patients who fulfilled the International Headache Society criteria for migraine. In 11 of them, a hair wash was the only trigger; in 45, it was one of the triggers; in 38, the hair wash was a trigger concurrently and in combination with another common trigger.
Another factor that adds to the pain, suggests Ravishankar, is genetic predisposition.