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Is wearing a hair band on your wrist harmful?

Posted at 2:32 PM, Dec 01, 2015

Do you have a hair band on your wrist?

NBC’s The Today Show is reporting that the popular habit of wearing a hair band on your wrist could be more harmful than you realize.

The Today Show reports that Audree Kopp, a Louisville, Kentucky resident, learned the hard way that having a hair band on your wrist so frequently may not be as safe as you might think.

Kropp told The Today Show that she was wearing a glittery hair band on her wrist when she noticed a large bump developing on her arm. The rough edges of the hair band had rubbed against her skin, causing an abrasion, which allowed the body’s natural skin bacteria into her body.

Antibiotics were unable to fix the issue so Kropp went to the emergency room. Doctors had to perform surgery to drain the fluid from the abscess.

"To get [an infection] from a tight wrap from something like this is not unheard of," said Dr. William Seitz — executive director of the Cleveland Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Lutheran Hospital, director of Hand and Upper Extremity and immediate past president of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand — who didn't treat Kopp.

"There was an abscess that took form beneath the skin and festered into what you might call a [boil]. Somehow the bacteria had to get in there … based on some abrasion," said Seitz.

Although Dr. Lauren Ploch — a member of the American Academy of Dermatology practicing in Augusta, Georgia — has not treated any infections in her practice related to hair bands, research shows that people who wear wristwatches are more likely to have infections than those who do not.

"I don't have any statistics on the rate of infection from hair ties," she wrote via email. "However, given that items worn on the wrist can harbor bacteria, there may be a higher chance of infection if the skin below the item were to become compromised."

If you’re worried about your habit of wearing a hair band on your wrist, don’t fret just yet. The Today Show is offering helpful tips on how to safely wear hair bands.

  • They advise not wearing things on your wrist that cling too tightly.
  • Opt out of wearing anything on your skin that has glitter, it could cut your skin.
  • Take any hair bands or wrist-wear off before you go to sleep.
  • When washing your hands, always wash under the hair bands as well.
  • Make sure to change up the hair band you are wearing and put on a clean one.