A salon trip is always considered a relaxing and soothing experience for all of us, but recently this turned out to be almost fatal for a 50-year-old Hyderabad woman, who suffered a stroke while getting her hair washed before haircut at the beauty parlour. Medical experts treating her stated that the main blood vessel supplying blood to the brain was pressured when she bent back her neck for the hair wash, resulting in a stroke.

Dr Sudhir Kumar, the Neurologist treating the woman, shared this information on Twitter “the woman initially felt dizziness, nausea and vomiting while getting her hair shampooed in a beauty parlour”. The doctor further stated that the “woman was first taken to a gastroenterologist for treating her symptoms, which did not improve, and the following day she developed a mild imbalance while walking. She was then referred to me for an opinion. She had mild right-cerebellar signs, and an MRI brain disclosed an infarct in the right posterior inferior cerebellar territory, while an MR angiogram showed left vertebral hypoplasia”.
Beauty Parlour Stroke Syndrome

The woman was diagnosed with beauty parlour stroke syndrome including the right PICA territory. The potential mechanism is winding of the vertebral artery during hyperextension and turning of the neck towards the washbasin while getting hair shampooed. The woman had hypertension well controlled, added the doctor.

A stroke affecting vertebrobasilar artery territory can develop during hair washing in a salon, specifically in women with atherosclerotic risk factors and unidentified vertebral hypoplasia. However, early recognition and treatment can avert complications, stated the doctor.

What Is Beauty Parlour Stroke Syndrome?

The first case of beauty parlour stroke syndrome was reported in the US in 1993. It was coined by Dr Michael Weintraub in the Journal of the American Medical Association after he treated five women who had developed severe neurological symptoms following a hair wash at the parlour. Severe dizziness, loss of balance and facial numbness were the main symptoms. Four out of five suffered stroke attacks, according to the Guardian article published in 2016. Also, health experts said even in the past similar cases were reported among men getting a neck massage in salons.

As per the ResearchGate, “beauty parlour stroke syndrome”, also known as a hairdresser-related ischemic cerebrovascular event (HICE) or vertebral-basilar ischemia (VBI) is a very rare occurrence caused by either artery dissection or vertebral artery compression due to incorrect neck positioning and manipulation at the salon bath basin.

What Causes Beauty Parlour Stroke Syndrome?

The neck joins the head to the rest of your body. The brain needs a continuous supply of oxygenated blood supplied from the arteries via the neck. Two arteries called the vertebral arteries go up the neck via the bones of the spinal column called vertebrae. They connect to form the basilar artery at the base of the skull. The basilar artery delivers blood to several vital regions in the brain, mainly the posterior and middle parts. Any disturbance to the blood flow via these arteries due to a clot or external pressure on the artery can result in a transient ischemic attack (harbinger of a stroke).

Symptoms Of Beauty Parlour Stroke Syndrome

The symptoms usually depend on the region of the brain affected and may show immediately or over a few days or weeks after salon treatment, which include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Blurred vision and double vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Vertigo
  • Numbness in the face
  • Weakness of a limbs
  • Slurring of speech
  • Pain in the neck

Risk Factors

Well, not all people getting a hair wash at a salon suffer from this syndrome. But certain health conditions can increase the risk that includes:

  • Earlier partial impediment to the artery
  • Longer duration of the extended position of the neck
  • Presence of smaller vertebral arteries
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure
  • Middle to Older age
  • Arthritis of the spinal column of the neck

Also Read: 6 Simple Ways To Lower The Risk Of Stroke

How To Diagnose Beauty Parlour Stroke Syndrome?

This syndrome is diagnosed based on the medical history and symptoms experienced by the patients that resemble a stroke following a hair wash at a beauty parlour. A complete neurological evaluation shows neurological deficits depending on the region of the brain affected. Some of the tests that may help doctors diagnose the condition include:

  • Imaging tests like CT scans and MRI to check for any changes in the brain
  • Magnetic resonance angiography to monitor blood flow to the brain
  • Tests like ECG and echocardiogram to rule out any heart-related cause of stroke

Also Read: Electrocardiogram (ECG) Test: Procedure, Results And Risks


Beauty parlour stroke syndrome is treated quite like other strokes that are caused due to decreased blood supply or ischemia to the brain. Anti-platelet medications and blood thinners may help to avert aggravation of the condition. Sometimes in severe cases, rehabilitation therapy may be needed.

Preventive Measures

When visiting a beauty parlour try to follow some of these measures to avert the risk of beauty-parlour stroke syndrome:

  • Make sure that your neck is placed in a comfortable position while your hair is being washed. The neck should not be bent backward for more than 20 degrees
  • Ask for additional neck support to lessen the risk
  • Inform your beautician if you have any risk factors for stroke, then you may need to get your hair washed face downward rather than looking upward