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What is Trichoclasis – How is it Best Managed?
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Updated on March 11, 2024

Trichoclasis is the technical term for a type of hair breakage that can result in split ends. Unlike other hair conditions, trichoclasis can occur in normal hair due to rough handling and a damaging hair care routine.

Keep reading this article to learn more about:

  • What is trichoclasis and how does it happen?
  • How trichoclasis is diagnosed
  • Tips to avoid developing trichoclasis
  • Suggested treatments for this type of hair breakage
  • Other hair conditions that are similar to trichoclasis
Table of Contents

What is trichoclasis?

Trichoclasis is one of a number of hair shaft disorders which result in broken or damaged hair strands, such as split ends. Trichoclasis is a hair shaft fracture in a hair that still has a cuticle. The cuticle is intact and displays no abnormalities.

Trichoclasis usually occurs as a result of hair trauma, typically due to excessive or vigorous washing, brushing or styling. The condition is usually patchy in nature and can be reversed by adopting different hair care techniques. Sometimes trichoclasis occurs as a result of excessive hair plucking (particularly in those affected by trichotillomania).

50% of people in the UK are said to pull or pick at their split ends, which can make the problem worse. Picking off split ends and vigorous hair care can stress the hair, leading to further hair breakages and fractures. This can give the hair a thin or brittle appearance.

Although trichoclasis is fairly common, it is reversible and temporary in nature and is not due to an underlying illness.

Diagnosing trichoclasis

There are many different types of hair fractures, so you may need to know the telltale signs of trichoclasis before diagnosing it.

Trichoclasis is one of the few hair fracture types that doesn’t indicate a problem with the hair cortex or cuticle. The hair snaps as a result of trauma to the hair, causing it to break on one side only. The broken hair is still attached to the main strand on the other side.

Tips to avoid trichoclasis

Trichoclasis is primarily caused due to a lack of care for the hair. Use these tips to reduce the chance of trichoclasis occurring:

person getting their hair dyed in a salon

1. Avoid use of chemicals

Perming, bleaching, colouring and treating your hair can all expose your hair to potentially harmful chemicals. This can lead to split ends and breakage — so it’s best to avoid exposing your hair to these chemicals as much as possible.

person getting their hair cut

2. Comb wet hair

Wet hair can break more easily than dry hair, so you need to take extra care when brushing wet hair. Invest in a wide-toothed comb which is much less likely to cause damage to your hair when detangling after a shower.

woman trying to brush her hair

3. Detangle with care

If you come across tangled hair or a tough knot, it can be tempting to yank the brush through it. Unfortunately, this can break your hair strands or even rip the hair’s shaft from the follicle, so avoid doing this as much as possible. Instead, use conditioner and your hands to gently untangle knots before brushing.
best shampoo and conditioner for hair growth featured image

4. Wash your hair gently

Gentle hair care is key as washing your hair too rigorously can create split ends. Instead, try to use a gentle massaging approach to make sure your hair stays intact while you shampoo and condition your hair.

5. Don’t overwash your hair

Your in-shower technique isn’t the only hair-washing faux pas when it comes to caring for your tresses. You also need to consider how often you wash your hair. Daily washing might be too much. We recommend that you wash your hair 3-4 times a week.

What is Trichoclasis

6. Adjust your sleeping habits

Movement patterns in sleep can contribute to split-end formation and trichoclasis. It can be difficult to change your sleeping habits, but you can use a satin pillowcase to reduce the risk of hair damage while you sleep.

all the ways to style your hair

7. Take care with heat

Heat styling can cause many different types of hair shaft fractures. If you want to use a straightener, hair dryer, curling tongs, hot comb, or any other heat treatments prepare your hair with a protective serum or spray before applying any heat.

Suggested treatments for trichoclasis

With trichoclasis, prevention is better than cure. Changing your routine by following the tips above can help you prevent trichoclasis in the first place. Gentle treatment and attentive hair care can also repair minor cases of trichoclasis.

If your hair is already suffering from severe breakages, fractures and split ends, it’s a good idea to go to the salon for a trim. Cutting off your split ends can strengthen your hair, giving it a new lease of life.

Alternatively, if you’re concerned about the extent of your hair breakage, you can also speak to a trichologist. Trichologists are doctors who specialise in treating problems with hair. They’ll be able to reassure you about the condition of your hair or create a plan to address the problem with you.

Can trichoclasis lead to hair loss?

If left untreated, any hair shaft disorder or fracture can eventually lead to brittle hair that breaks easily. This may not be true hair loss, but it can give the appearance of thinning or unhealthy hair.

Hair conditions similar to trichoclasis

up-close photo of hair strands and the nodes that appear on them

Trichoclasis is one of many types of hair shaft fracture. Other types can indicate underlying issues or problems with the hair cuticle itself, so it’s important to understand the symptoms of each condition.

Other hair shaft conditions include:

Trichorrhexis Nodosa

This is the most common hair fracture type. Trichorrhexis Nodosa manifests as a frayed bobble in the middle of the hair shaft and arises when the hair cuticle is completely lost.

Most cases of Trichorrhexis Nodosa are caused by hair trauma and can be avoided or minimised by using the tips above. However, certain congenital conditions that cause abnormal keratin formation can also increase the chance of trichorrhexis nodosa.

examples of Trichorrhexis Nodosa

Trichoptilosis

Trichoptilosis is the medical term for true split ends. When the hair cuticle eventually wears away, the hair splits in two at the end, resulting in two frayed ends stemming from the same hair shaft.

Like trichoclasis, trichoptilosis is usually caused by physical trauma to the hair. This includes excessive heat exposure, overwashing, and aggressive brushing.

Trichorrhexis Invaginata (Bamboo Hair)

Also known as bamboo hair, trichorrhexis invaginata is hair that has a characteristically knotty appearance. Each strand contains bumps or beads similar to those seen on a bamboo stalk.

Trichorrhexis invaginata is a rare hair shaft disorder. Most cases are found in patients who have Netherton syndrome.

What is Trichoclasis – How is it Best Managed?, Wimpole Clinic

How can the Wimpole Clinic help?

If you’re concerned about the amount of breakage and damage in your hair strands, speaking to a trichologist can help. Addressing your condition early can help you save your hair from becoming dry and fragile, so it’s best to speak to a specialist.

Book a free consultation with a trichologist at the Wimpole Clinic to discuss your concerns about trichoclasis or other hair shaft disorders.

What is Trichoclasis – How is it Best Managed?, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Michael May (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Michael May (FRCS)Updated on March 11, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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