36 answers

Hair MATTED to SCALP!!! What to Do?

My neighbor died suddenly back in early June leaving behind 3 children, two boys and the youngest a 9 year old girl with beautiful long blond wavy hair. Tonight I noticed that her hair is really knotted, and I asked her if her mom used to do her hair for her. Of course she said yes. Well to make a long story short, she came over to my house to let me try and brush out the "knots" and they are mats. Her hair is completely matted to her scalp and hasn't been brushed thru in two months. I tried for 45 minutes to comb out just one of the mats and was totally unsuccessful. Please help me with ideas on how to get these mats out. I have fine thin hair and have never had to deal with this. I would say to just cut it off, but it would have to be shaved. Her father is too busy working and taking care of her brother a totally disabled boy of 12, so this is the least of his concerns. He doesn't realize the long term effects this could have for her and her health and the fact that she will be teased at school. I really want to help her but don't know how. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all so much for caring enough to respond. I decided that it would be best to take her to the salon and let them do it. I have MS and my arms and fingers just didn't have enough strength to do the job.
I bought her a special long hair shampoo and conditioner and a spray in conditioner. I also got her a wide tooth comb and pick to get the tangles out everyday. She agreed to let me braid her hair every night, so I'll be able to help her keep on top of it. She sat like an angel at the salon while the poor stylist combed her hair out for an hour and 30 minutes. Thank you all again for the tips, it's really nice to know that people care enough to help a stranger in need!
God Bless you all!

Featured Answers

Hi T., Try putting some conditioner on her hair and letting it soak through for about 30 minutes or so...any conditioner you have around the house will do. Once you get her hair combed through wash, condition and comb it through again then teach her simple hair styles she can do on her own! She is lucky to have such a great neighbor! And it's great that you are there for her since her own Mom can't be. Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful

This story just broke my heart.
Any hair product that says it removes tangles will work.But you will need to repeat it a few times if it is really bad. while gently brushing.Also Aussie makes a product called 3 minute miricale that will help after the knots are out.Probably some of her hair will fall out because it has not been brushed for so long. Maybe you can cut aroungd some of it and then trim it to make it even.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,
My daughter has very fine, easily tangled hair (and a very sensitive scalp)and I have two suggestions. One is Pia's Detangler, I think made by Circle of Friends. It comes in a variety of fruit scents. I got it at a children's salon. Next, i often leave in conditioner after I wash her hair. Good luck. patty

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

it is normal, my daughter is 3 and we went one night without brushing it about 7 mths ago and she woke up with dreads, i tried brushing and was unsucessful, my mom is a hair stylist and suggested that i load with lots of conditioner until it works it self out. i put on tons and tons of conditioner and then put it up in a ponytail, 3-4 times a day for several days, each day trying to brush some of it, by the end of the week she was so condtioned up that i put her in the tub washed and put lots of condtioner back on it did work, it just took a long time, now we brush 3-4 times a day and before during and after baths we condition so this doesnt happen again. i hope this helps!

2 moms found this helpful

Oh! My heart is ready to burst with so much emotion. This little girl needs guidance. Good for you for noticing and helping. I have a 9 year-old daughter, too, who does her own hair every, yes, every night. Teaching responsibility is so important in our children's lives. Caring for fine, long hair is a big responsibility that can be fun, too. Obviously, you've witnessed firsthand what happens if you don't. Okay, to start invest in a really good (there are a million brands on the market) deep, deep conditioner and let it soak in her hair for awhile. Then, do as you did, just comb out little sections at a time while dousing her hair with the conditioner as you do it. Keep working the conditioner with your hands into her hair. This will be messy but it will work with alot of paitence and a lot of conditioner. Once you have the hair smooth again, explain to this child the necessary steps for maintaining long, healthy hair. Namely, washing and, more importantly, conditioning her hair every night or every other night. If she braids it before bedtime, this will keep tangles from forming as she tosses and turns. Brushing in the morning is key, too. This young girl is old enough to decide if the result is worth the effort. Of course, she will need reminders. Maybe once you have gotten her hair "fixed", you can gently and lovingly exlain this regimen to her dad. I'm sure he is overwhelmed right now, but also would appreciate any "female" advice and assistance he can get. You are the epitome of a good neighbor.

1 mom found this helpful

First of all you are so wonderful for helping your neighbors out! What a sad situation, and this poor little girl. My daughter gets knots, and the best way to get them out is to have her wash her hair real well and massage conditioner in. Then you'll need to slowly brush the matts out using a soft brittled brush and using more conditioner. It will take a while but hopefully you can help her understand that this will keep happening if she doesn't brush through her hair completely everyday. Maybe suggest to her father that he have her get her hair cut to her shoulders so it's easier for her to brush, and to check her hair at bedtime to see that she is brushing all the way through. God bless you for helping her, you are a great person, best wishes always!

1 mom found this helpful

This story just broke my heart.
Any hair product that says it removes tangles will work.But you will need to repeat it a few times if it is really bad. while gently brushing.Also Aussie makes a product called 3 minute miricale that will help after the knots are out.Probably some of her hair will fall out because it has not been brushed for so long. Maybe you can cut aroungd some of it and then trim it to make it even.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My kids and my sister have the SAME problem. I would use Suave detangler. I do use Suave detangler! I haven't found anything else that works. The more pricey stuff is greasy.

She needs to be using at the very least a shampoo with detangler/conditioner. It would be better to have her use conditioner. You really need to teach her to rinse it well, though, since leaving it in will make things much worse. And now that I think about it, she may not be rinsing out all of the way with the shampoo and that may be where some of this is starting.

Also, she may need a trim.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi,

My friend had this happen when we were growing up. It took a whole bottle of Johnson "No More Tangles" and several hours but it came out. My suggestion is to start the the ends and slowly work your way to the scalp. Also some leave-in conditioner may help.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Try to comb through it when it is wet. It will be easier. Also spray a detangler on it. They make great ones for kids. I even got one a dollar general that works well. Also use a pick that ppl usually use on permed hair. There is more space between the teeth then in a comb. Work from the bottom up. Hope that helps.

1 mom found this helpful

I am writing mostly to acknowledge what a special thing you are doing for a little girl who is obviously in need of a strong woman in her life. However, I also have one other small suggestion. Once you get her hair in good shape (since I have complete confidence that you will), another trick to help her to keep it that way is to wear a wide headband to sleep each night. I always had long hair, and this helped to keep the top of it from tangling -- as well as keeping the oil from my hair off my face when I was an acne-fighting teenager . . .

1 mom found this helpful

Have you tried a pick and a spray on tangle free conditioner? This might work. I'm sure this lil gal appreciates you alot!

1 mom found this helpful

T. E I dont know if this will help but when my daughter let her hair get very knotty, my niece put mayo in her hair worked it into the knot and had success getting it out. it was not an easy process.

I just want to say that you are a wonderful person for providing the help to this man and his children. This little girl needs a woman in her life. She has so much life expierences to go through that will require the help of a Mother figure in her life. You are a true angel. May God Bless you and your family always

1 mom found this helpful

First of-thank you for stepping up to help this little girl.
I would get some leave in conditioner and try that first to see if that would help with the combing-don't brush use the comb. If that doesn't work I'd get her father's permision to take her to a hair salon.

1 mom found this helpful

Get some spray on detangler and just take it one strand at a time. This will take hours too do but it can be done. I know it sounds crazy but that is the best way to do it when it is completely matted. Start with the bottom edge of the hair on the top side if it can be found and just gently if possible pull the hair off. It may be in the dad's best interest to have her hair cut shorter so she can take care of it herself.

1 mom found this helpful

T.,
My granddaughter is biracial and her hair gets very matted. She uses lots of conditioner. She also uses oils on her hair to comb it, this does seem to work well for her. I would at least give it a try.
Barbara

1 mom found this helpful

T.,
I don't have anything to say about the hair that hasn't been said, but BLESS YOU for taking care of this precious child. Keep it up!
A.

1 mom found this helpful

First of all T. you are an angel on earth. This story and what you are willing to do brought tears to my eyes. You go girl. :)
I would recommend conditioner or maybe olive oil. I know it may sound gross but we use that for gum issues and it works. Rub some in the matted area, let it sit and try to brush out. It will take some time but i think you will be able to get it all out.
Good luck. Keep us all posted. And thank you for reminding us that there are still good people out there willing to help no matter what. You are the kind of person i hope my children grow up to be.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello,
I went through a similar situation when I was younger, except mine wasn't matted, just really knotted.

My great aunt used mayonnaise. I know, it sounds gross, but it worked. Took a lot of patience, hers and mine, but it did work.

I have heard that beer works also.

Hope that helps!

1 mom found this helpful

God bless you for helping this little girl. I would start by washing it, and with a really good conditioner still in, start combing the wet hair. When you've done that a while, you may rinse and complete the job with a spray in conditioner. It may be worth a trip to the salon if dad is willing to pay.

1 mom found this helpful

would a VO5 hot oil treatment help,or the kids spray detangler, or just straight conditioner and let it sit for 20 minutes and then try sort of combing it.

I think you will probably need to talk to Dad, nicely of course. But instead of calling it a Salon or a day trip, just ask if he minds if you taker her to get a shorter hair cut so that it would be easier to care for. You can tell the girl its a special trip whatever but i would down play it with dad.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T., Try putting some conditioner on her hair and letting it soak through for about 30 minutes or so...any conditioner you have around the house will do. Once you get her hair combed through wash, condition and comb it through again then teach her simple hair styles she can do on her own! She is lucky to have such a great neighbor! And it's great that you are there for her since her own Mom can't be. Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.,
My daughter has very fine, easily tangled hair (and a very sensitive scalp)and I have two suggestions. One is Pia's Detangler, I think made by Circle of Friends. It comes in a variety of fruit scents. I got it at a children's salon. Next, i often leave in conditioner after I wash her hair. Good luck. patty

1 mom found this helpful

Wash and rinse her hair. Then put a lot of conditioner on it, don't rinse it off. Wrap her head in a hot towel and let sit until it is cooled. Then work into the matted hair a handful of conditioner again. You should be able to comb out most of it at that point. Always start at the end of the hair and work your way to the scalp from there. It is best to do small portions at a time. It takes a lot of time but it is well worth the effort. When it is done rinse out the conditioner. You may have to trim the ends because they will be damaged from being matted for so long. I commend you for caring enough to help her. The world needs more people that will take the extra step that you are taking. Good luck and God Bless you.

1 mom found this helpful

Knowing how hard it is to brush out the little knots from my daughters' hair I would suggest doing it wet with conditioner. The detangler spray might also help in the rougher patches.

Kudos to you for helping this little girl. It might seem like a small gesture but I think it will have big results!

1 mom found this helpful

I know this might sound odd, but there is a tool that I use on my dog that helps remove mats. It kind've cuts through them. It still wouldn't completely remove them, but I bet it would save her hair and allow them not to get worse. I'm sure any pet store would carry it.
She is so lucky to have you there to help her. It's such a sad story! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

T.,

Bless you. You already have lots of good advice about the hair...but some advice about the girl...keep brushing her hair if she'll let you...she needs an adult woman she can talk to as she walks through this dark time. No matter how much her dad loves her, I'm sure he is grief-stricken and overwhelmed himself....AND Dads just can't do it all. My daughter is 10...and though she wants to do her hair on her own, she still needs help. I can't imagine her not having any. As you brush her hair...just let her talk...it will be good for her.

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe ask the dad if you can have a girls day out and go get your hair and nails done. This way the problem will be fixed and there will be no awkward moments between you and the father.

1 mom found this helpful

this used to happen to my sister - at the nape area because she would only brush the top of her hair. Get a comb - just a regular one and start at the bottom of the mat and gently comb out - working your way up to the scalp. It will take awhile, but should come out. Show the girl how to brush her hair when you are done- maybe let her try a couple different styles of brushes to see which one she likes the best - it may make her feel special and excited to use it herself.

1 mom found this helpful

My mom was a beautician and had this to deal with in her shop. Although it took several hours, this worked for her and allowed the little girl to keep most of her hair: Douse her hair in baby oil. Yes, this will make her hair very greasy and will need to be washed, but that should be the least of the concern. When you comb her hair, take extremely small sections starting at the bottom layer. Start as close to the scalp as possible, being careful not to pull too hard. Comb in short strokes, about an inch to 2 inches until the knots are worked to the end, then go to another layer. It could be that if you're able to get most of the underside worked out that she will be able to keep most of her length and may only have to have layers cut in instead of needing to shave her. Let me know how things turn out, please :)

1 mom found this helpful

I would take her to a salon (girls day out!) and see if a professional can help. Also, get her hair cut short so it's easier for her to care for (with Dad's permission, of course).

The only thing I can think of, otherwise, is one of those metal picks with the really sharp teeth, and you'd have to work and work and work at it. But it would probably cause a lot of pain. I would do it wet and use LOTS of conditioner. My daughter has curly hair, and the only way I can brush it is if it's wet and has lots of conditioner in it.

She's lucky to have a neighbor like you who cares. Maybe you could organize some other people in your community to help care for this family. It sounds like Dad is struggling, poor guy.

A. @ http://prettybabies.blogspot.com

1 mom found this helpful

A leave in spray conditioner would help alot. Spray it in while you are detangling. Don't be afraid to use a lot and heavely target the matted areas. And maybe teach her to use it so she has an easier time brushing her hair in the future. Not sure how much you want to get involved, but a shorter haircut in general will make it easier for her to maintane. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.~

God bless you for loving this little girl!!

You got a ton of good advice here, but I just wanted to respectfully disagree with the responders who said to chop her hair off. I would only consider this AS A LAST RESORT, AND if the little girl dislikes her long hair. And I think there are many feasible options before cosidering cutting it. I know as a child growing up, I loved my long hair, and it would have broken my heart, not to mention what it would have done to my self-esteem to have someone chop my hair off without my expressed desire. I would do everything possible to help her get her hair in order, and teach her how to manage it herself, long before I'd consider cutting it off... that is unless she WANTS it shorter... That said, she could keep her long hair and get some layers put in it, which could make it easier to comb out, but still keep most of the length. Plus layers in wavy hair will accentuate her waves, so she might really like that...

I have always had longer hair, and I would say that once you get the mats out, it is important to have a routine to keep them out. Here are my suggestions for that:

1) Get her a moisturizing conditioner and teach her to use it heavily with each wash... and comb out all tangles with wet hair while the conditioner is on, with a wide tooth comb. That is the easiest time to comb out tangles.
2) After shampooing, rinsing, conditioning, rinsing, and towel drying (always pat and squeeze, never rub), apply a leave-in conditioner or detangling spray and comb out all tangles again.
3) Get her a wide tooth comb for combing through her wet hair, and find her an effective brush, either a flat paddle style, or a brush with long teeth to get through all layers of the hair, to the underneath, when it's dry.
4) Teach her to shampoo, condition, and brush her hair ALL THE WAY THROUGH TO THE UNDERNEATH. I say that because I have a young friend of the family who has extremely thick hair (she's now 13) but when she first started to care for her own hair, I watched her wash it, and she didn't even get the underneath wet, let alone shampooed, conditioned, and combed! And she even didn't realize this until I told her and showed her how to do it properly.
5) Teach her to put her hair in one braid in the back before she goes to bed. My young friend also learned to do this. It works wonders at keeping the hair from tangling while she sleeps.

Best of luck to you and your young friend. So sorry for her family's loss. She is lucky to have you and you are doing a wonderful thing for her.

Please don't suggest cutting her hair unless SHE WANTS IT CUT!!!

1 mom found this helpful

Have you spoken with the father about this? Maybe he doesn't realize it. I would talk to him first before doing anything drastic to help. Even though I think you are wonderful to care so much, he might not.

There have been many excellent suggestions to try. She may need to have her hair cut short. It won't need to be shaved, just several inches shorter will make it much easier to deal with, and the beauty salon person can deal with it. It will be much easier to care for, and she can have longer hair again when she is old enough to take care of it herself. If dad won't go for the haircut, try some of the suggested methods.

My daughter had very long thick hair that was very hard to comb, but my husband didn't want me to get it cut. I went away one weekend, and he had to deal with the hair. He cut several inches off it himself, once he realized what an ordeal it was to take care of. She looked so cute with short hair!

Long hair should be brushed thoroughly before washing, then shampooed. Use rinse out conditoner, but comb hair before rinsing. Then rinse, and gently squeeze the hair with a towel so it is no longer dripping wet. Don't rub, that only increases the tangles. Then use detangling spray (we use Aussie Hair Insurance Detangling Spray, then comb hair again. Use a wide tooth comb or large plastic hair pick, not a hair brush when hair is wet. Try to separate out a section of hair. Start combing a few inches from the bottom of the hair and work your way up until it's tangle free, then do another section. When finished comb through again to make sure all tangles are gone.

Wearing long hair in braids will help keep away tangles, but it has to be re-braided daily.

It probably won't be feasible for you to care for her hair daily, so you should teach her how to do it herself.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, T.,

Take her to your local beauty salon and see what
they suggest.

Hope this helps. Good luck. Thanks for caring.

D.

1 mom found this helpful

I would suggest taking her to a salon so they can put some kind of conditioner in it. Most of it will have to be hacked off, not all. It would be easier to try to go through short hair rather than long.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HarrisburgPAChat
chat and events within 2 hour radius

1 mom found this helpful

Try combing conditioner through. You can use a pick like for perms to make it a little easier. Work it through a little at a time in small sections. Once it gets worked out suggest keeping it in braids to keep it under control. If it is really long I would suggest cutting some of it off leaving some length to make it a little more manageable.

M. R

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe this will work ? Wash it, and then use TONS of conditioner and don't rinse it out -- try brushing it out with the conditioner in, while it's wet. . . . . if it works, THEN wash it again, condition it and brush it as you normally would.

Good luck. And thanks from all of us for taking the time to love this little girl. You are a wonderful neighbor !!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi,
First of all I'm sorry to hear about your neighbor, but its great to hear that this family has you, such a caring person in their lives when they really need it! My daughter (4) has long hair that knots really easily almost like dreadlocks at times, finally my husband came up with something that works for her/us after years of torture all around. First we have one of those shower heads that you can hold, that seems to help we shampoo her hair 2 times really good with a cheap conditioning shampoo and sometimes I use a big gob of conditioner, then we blow dry and when its almost dry we have her start brushing it (I spray in no tangle stuff) and we also use a big big square brush that really helps. It seems like the blow drier almost blast away the knots. You might have to do this several times at first. It use to be a total nightmare, I would sit in the tube forever trying to comb out her knots with her crying and me and my husband praying :). So please try this trick!! M.

1 mom found this helpful

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.