Thursday 7 April 2016

DREADROT - Mouldy Dreadlocks!

The horror, the horror! Yes, we’re talking about Dread rot… and yes that introduction was potentially more enthusiastic than it needed to be… but what’cha gon’ do?!

So, few things seem to strike fear into the hearts of dreadheads more than that of dread rot - I mean come on, it has ROT right there in the name?! So today’s video is going to cover dread rot, mould, mildew, all these wonderful sounding things… because someone has to talk about it.

Right, I guess the place to start would be with the question as to whether dread rot is a real thing… or whether it’s one of those myths invented to make dreadlocks sound more scary and unattractive. Well, unfortunately in this case the myth turns out to have basis in fact, dread rot is a real thing, you can get mould in your dreadlocks… however, on the positive side, if you take care of your dreadlocks it’s probably something you’re never going to come across, and even if you do… it’s treatable, and not a death sentence for your dreads.

What is it and how does it occur? Well I find the easiest way to explain it is in terms of towels… stick with me here, it’ll make sense (I hope). If you use a towel and fail to hang it to dry properly, if you just ball it up on the floor, leave it in the bottom of your laundry basket or throw it to the back of your locker… it’s going to start to become unpleasant. The same thing can happen to dreadlocks if you fail to dry them properly. Now usually if your towel starts to become unpleasant… you stop using it and give it a good wash on a high heat to freshen it back up again… unfortunately with dreadlocks you can’t throw them in the washer with some detergent and so instead they will continue to get wet when washed, and if you continue to fail to dry them properly the unpleasantness will become more and more noticeable.

Dread rot is most easily identifiable through the dreadlocks having an unpleasant odour while they’re damp, even if they’ve just been washed. As dread rot gets more severe the odour will get worse and will start to even be noticeable while the dreadlocks are dry.

All starting to sound rather dark and negative, isn’t it? Fear not;

The thing is, it takes quite a lot of poor care before the dreadlocks will start to exhibit these negative attributes… it’s going to take more than one rushed drying session to get them into such a bad state. Dread rot occurs after extended periods of poor drying, it comes about if you repeatedly fail to properly dry the dreadlocks again and again, and so for most people it’s going to be entirely avoidable. However - even if you do find yourself in a situation where you fear your dreadlocks are becoming mouldy, all is not lost - dread rot can be treated with deep cleaning. Soaking in bicarbonate of soda and rinsing with apple cider vinegar can treat dread rot - simply replace your regular washes with deep cleans until you’re sure that the symptoms have dissipated… and then take the tie to make sure that you’ve embedded the routine that allowed the dread rot to occur in the first place… because it’ll return again should you continue to fail to change your behaviour.

Steps to help avoid dread rot:

  • Always dry your dreadlocks thoroughly - don’t tie them up in a bun or wear a tam when they’re still wet, and don’t sleep on them before they’re dry.
  • Make sure you’re using an appropriate shampoo, high quality shampoos will help fight off the risk of mould and will also leave behind less residue - shampoo residue inside dreadlocks can trap moisture and further increase the risk of dreadrot.
  • Don’t wash your dreadlocks if you know you won’t have time to dry them properly - the drying is as important as the washing.
  • Look for products containing tea tree - e.g soaps and sprays
  • Deep clean semi-regularly to keep the risk of dread rot low.

Keep on top of these things and dread rot is unlikely to ever be as much of a worry as it’s name would have you believe. 

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