Syncope is the medical term for fainting. When you faint, you lose consciousness for a short time. Overall, syncope is caused by a decrease in blood flow to the brain, which can lead to a temporary loss of consciousness.

There are many things that can lead to a fainting spell. Some can be serious, such as underlying heart conditions. Others may be due to a shock or strain, such as emotional and physical stress.

Did you know that it’s also possible to faint while having your hair done? When this happens, it’s called hair-grooming syncope. Keep reading to learn more about this type of fainting, what causes it, and how it can be prevented.

Hair-grooming syncope is when you faint while your hair is being groomed. A variety of different types of grooming methods have been associated with the condition, including:

  • combing
  • brushing
  • cutting
  • blowing
  • curling
  • braiding
  • flat ironing
  • highlighting
  • washing

Hair-grooming syncope most commonly occurs in children and adolescents. A 2009 study of 111 people that had experienced hair-grooming syncope found that it was more common in girls. The average age was found to be 11 for girls and 12 for boys.

Typically, hair-grooming syncope is preceded by symptoms common to other types of fainting, including:

Often, an episode of hair-grooming syncope begins while you’re standing. However, it can also start while kneeling or sitting.

People that are experiencing hair-grooming syncope can sometimes have seizure-like movements. This can include twitching or jerking movements.

Hair-grooming syncope is believed to be a type of reflex syncope. In this type of syncope, fainting happens due to a specific trigger. Some examples of potential triggers include:

  • long periods of standing
  • prolonged exposure to heat
  • emotional stress
  • physical pain or fear of physical pain
  • seeing blood or having blood drawn
  • straining, such as while going to the bathroom or when coughing

Hair grooming is a less common syncope trigger. For example, a 2019 study found that only 2.26 percent of the 354 people in the study had experienced hair-grooming syncope. In this study, actions like urinating and having a bowel movement more commonly led to fainting.

The exact mechanism that causes hair-grooming syncope is unclear. Perhaps in some people, activation of multiple nerves in the scalp and face during grooming causes a reaction in the body similar to that of other syncope triggers.

This reaction can cause a drop in heart rate and widening of blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure. Blood flow to the brain can then drop, particularly if you’re standing up, and you can briefly lose consciousness.

Most of the time, people experiencing hair-grooming syncope recover quickly without treatment. Once potential fainting triggers are identified, strategies can be implemented to lower the risk of fainting.

Fainting can still be frightening, particularly for children. Because of this, reassurance and education are very important after a fainting spell.

In some cases, fainting can sometimes be a sign of an underlying heart or brain condition. If this is your first fainting spell, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor. They can perform tests to help rule out more serious health conditions.

While it’s not possible to completely eliminate hair grooming from your routine, there are some steps that you can take to help prevent hair-grooming syncope from happening:

  • Plan to sit while having your hair done. Standing may increase the likelihood of fainting and may also increase the risk of injury if you were to fall down while fainting.
  • Be aware of the symptoms that you may experience prior to fainting.
  • If you begin to feel faint, stop the grooming activity. It may help you to sit down with your head between your knees or to lie down and lift your legs until the feelings of faintness pass.
  • Try to hydrate before having your hair done. Sometimes, fainting can be associated with dehydration or low electrolyte levels.

Hair-grooming syncope is when you faint while having your hair groomed. It can occur due to many different grooming activities, such as combing, brushing, and cutting. It’s more common in children and adolescents. Girls tend to experience it more often than boys.

Many people experience symptoms prior to fainting. These can include things like dizziness, feeling warm, and blurry vision.

While most people recover from hair-grooming syncope without treatment, it still may be a good idea to see your doctor afterward, particularly if this is the first time you’ve fainted. They can help rule out more serious causes of fainting.