Why should you not wear a hair tie on your wrist?

Wearing a hair tie around your wrist may seem harmless, but it can actually lead to some unwanted consequences. Here are some key reasons why you may want to avoid keeping hair ties on your wrists.

It Can Cause Discomfort and Circulation Issues

Having a tight hair tie wrapped around your wrist can compress the blood vessels and nerves in that area. This compression can lead to tingling, numbness, and pain in the hand and fingers. If a hair tie is too tight, it restricts proper blood flow to the hand which can be dangerous if left for extended periods of time. The wrist contains important veins that transport blood to and from the hand, so any constriction of these vessels is undesirable.

In addition, the constant friction of the elastic rubbing on the wrist can cause skin irritation, redness, and even small blisters or sores. The skin of the wrist is quite delicate and not designed to withstand prolonged compression and abrasion.

Symptoms of Wearing a Hair Tie on Your Wrist

  • Tingling or numbness in the fingers
  • Reduced grip strength
  • Coldness in the hand
  • Color changes in the skin of the wrist and hand
  • Pain or throbbing in the wrist
  • Skin irritation, cuts, or sores

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s a sign to promptly remove the hair tie from your wrist and give your skin a break. The tingling and numbness are especially concerning as they indicate compression of the median nerve in the wrist.

It Can Exacerbate Existing Medical Conditions

For those who already have medical issues that affect the wrists and hands, wearing a tied hair elastic can make symptoms worse. Conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and arthritis can be aggravated by having constant pressure on the wrist joint and nerves.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve as it passes through the wrist. A constricting hair tie will further pinch this nerve, increasing tingling, numbness, and pain. The same goes for tendonitis which is inflammation of the wrist and hand tendons – a hair tie will place extra strain on those already irritated tendons.

Those with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the wrist may find the joint swelling and aching more with a hair tie digging into the inflamed area. The joint inflammation can even cause the hair tie to feel extra tight and uncomfortable.

Medical Conditions Made Worse by Hair Ties on Wrists

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Arthritis (rheumatoid and osteoarthritis)
  • De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
  • Ganglion cysts

Bottom line, if you already have a wrist or hand condition, it’s wise to avoid wearing hair elastics or wristbands so as not to aggravate your symptoms.

It Can Worsen Hand Edema

Edema refers to swelling caused by fluid retention in the body’s tissues. Hand edema involves swelling of the hands and wrists due to excess fluid buildup. This can be caused by pregnancy, menstruation, high blood pressure, and certain medications or health conditions.

Wearing something constrictive like a hair tie around an already swollen wrist and hand can make the edema even worse. The hair tie puts pressure on the area and doesn’t allow the fluid to properly drain, leading to more pronounced swelling, stiffness, and discomfort in the hand.

Those prone to hand edema should be vigilant about not wearing restrictive bands on their wrists which may trap fluid in the hands and fingers.

It Can Interfere with Hand Washing and Hygiene

Proper hand hygiene is vital for health, especially with infectious diseases like COVID-19. Washing the hands frequently and thoroughly is one of the best ways to kill germs and viruses and prevent them from spreading.

However, wearing hair elastics and wristbands can get in the way of good hand washing technique. They can prevent you from scrubbing every part of your wrist and hand. Bands are also prone to sliding down when hands are wet, meaning they transfer germs from the wrist onto the hands.

For optimal hand cleansing, your wrists and hands should be free of jewelry and accessories. So it’s best not to wear hair ties on your wrists if you want unimpeded hand hygiene.

The Hair Tie Can Harbor Bacteria

Since hair ties sit snugly against the skin and can get wet, they can easily harbor bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A warm, moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for many pathogens to grow.

If you wear the same hair tie for long periods, you give microbes more opportunity to colonize the elastic band. Then every time you put the hair tie on your wrist, you risk transferring those germs back onto your skin.

One study found hair ties to have higher levels of bacteria compared to items like barrettes and hair clips. So from an infection standpoint, it’s prudent to switch out hair ties frequently or clean them regularly.

Germs Commonly Found on Hair Elastics

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Escherichia coli
  • Candida albicans
  • Dermatophytes like Tinea

It Can Contribute to Poor Posture of Hands

Keeping a tight hair tie around the wrist encourages sustained flexion of the hand and fingers. This can lead to cramping of the hands as well as poor posture over time.

Normally, we should let our hands fully extend and spread the fingers wide on a frequent basis. This stretches out the joints and muscles of the hands. But wearing a constricting hair tie prevents our hands from extending and opening.

Over time, this sustained flexion can cause stiffness, clawing of the fingers, muscle shortening, and joint contractures. Proper hand posture involves a balance between flexion and extension.

Potential Effects of Chronic Hand Flexion from Hair Ties

  • Clawing of the fingers
  • Tightened muscles in the palm and forearm
  • Stiffness and reduced range of motion
  • Finger, hand, and wrist pain
  • Contracture of joints in the fingers and wrist

To maintain healthy hand function and biomechanics, make sure to periodically stretch out the hands fully and not keep them perpetually flexed with a tight hair accessory.

It Can Lead to Hair Damage with Frequent Use

While hair ties are designed to hold hair in place, using them too often can backfire and cause breakage or loss of hair. This is especially true when wearing hair elastics on the wrist between uses.

The elastic band puts tension on hair strands, which can weaken the hair structure over time. As well, any tugging on the hair tie sitting on your wrist pulls at the attached follicles, creating trauma.

Wearing a snug hair tie also obstructs blood flow to the follicles, depriving them of nutrients. The result may be brittle, thinning hair. Those with fine or fragile hair need to be particularly cautious of hair tie damage.

Signs of Hair Damage from Frequent Hair Tie Use

  • Breakage, especially at the nape of the neck
  • Split ends
  • Loss of volume
  • Thinning or shedding hair
  • Reduced hair growth
  • Traction alopecia along the hairline

To minimize hair risks, be gentle when securing hair with elastics and don’t keep hair ties tightly on the wrist between uses. Give hair a break from tension regularly.

It Can Increase Risk of Skin Infections

Wearing hair ties frequently on the wrist also increases the risk of certain skin infections in that area. Friction from the elastic coupled with trapped moisture and bacteria can lead to conditions like folliculitis, cellulitis, and abscesses.

Folliculitis is inflammation of the hair follicles that appears as small red bumps or pustules. Cellulitis involves a diffuse skin infection that causes swelling, redness, and pain. An abscess is a pocket of pus that builds up under the skin.

These infections arise when bacteria invade the skin’s protective barrier, often in sweaty areas like the wrist under a hair tie. Once the skin integrity is compromised, the pathogens can proliferate and cause infection.

So those susceptible to skin infections, like diabetics, should be vigilant about keeping their wrists free of irritation from hair elastics and wristwear.

Skin Infections Associated with Hair Ties on Wrists

  • Folliculitis
  • Cellulitis
  • Abscesses
  • Paronychia
  • Herpes simplex
  • Pseudomonas skin infections

It Can Lead to Scarring and Hyperpigmentation

Prolonged friction from hair ties cutting into skin can damage not only the skin cells but the deeper tissues like fat and connective tissue. This can ultimately cause scarring and skin discoloration that is difficult to correct.

Scars form due to collagen accumulation at sites of repeated trauma and skin injury. Dark or light patches also develop through accumulation of melanin pigments.

Once scars and pigment changes occur, they can be permanent issues without undergoing procedures like laser skin resurfacing or dermabrasion. So avoiding the root source of skin damage is key.

Preventing Scars and Hyperpigmentation

  • Avoid keeping hair ties on wrists
  • Moisturize skin daily
  • Use sun protection on exposed skin
  • Take off wristbands during athletic activities
  • Treat any skin infections early
  • Avoid picking or scratching at irritated skin

Being proactive with skin health will help prevent long term aesthetics issues like scarring and pigment changes in areas prone to jewelry irritation.

It Can Increase Risk of Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a rash caused by an allergic reaction to substances touching the skin. Wearing hair ties for prolonged periods can trigger contact dermatitis flares in those with elastic allergies.

The rubber or latex materials in hair ties, elastic bands, and bracelets contain chemicals that can be irritating. Nickel and cobalt are also common contact allergens found in metal clasps and fasteners.

When the offending substance has prolonged contact with skin, such as being wrapped on a wrist, it stimulates an immune reaction. This leads to itchy, inflamed, and irritated skin symptoms.

Signs of Contact Dermatitis

  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Blisters or peeling
  • Swelling
  • Itching or burning
  • Dry, cracked skin

For those with known contact allergies, it’s important to avoid close skin contact with the irritating material. Seek hypoallergenic wrist accessories as an alternative.

It Can Cause Accidental Strangulation Injuries

While rare, there is a danger of accidental strangulation or choking from hair ties worn on the wrists. This risk is highest among young children who may get the ties caught around their fingers or other body parts.

Case reports have highlighted injuries seen in toddlers who got elastic hair bands stuck around their genitals or digits resulting in swelling, tissue damage, and even amputation. Children have also choked from accidentally swallowing loose hair ties.

So parents need to be vigilant about keeping hair elastics and ties away from small children. When worn on the wrist by adults, it’s also prudent to remove hairbands at nighttime and during activities with entanglement risks.

Choking Prevention Tips for Hair Ties

  • Closely supervise young kids when hair ties are being used
  • Keep loose elastics out of reach of children
  • Consider using hair clips instead of ties for young kids
  • Avoid dangling ties worn on wrists or in hair around babies
  • Teach kids not to put elastics in their mouths or noses
  • Check products meet age safety standards

It Can Interfere with Identification and Security

Wearing hair ties and bands on the wrists has the potential to hamper identification, access control, and personal security in some situations. This needs to be considered when wearing wrist accessories.

For example, elastic bands may obscure a wrist area needed for pulse oximetry readings or identification wristbands. Hair ties can also set off security metal detectors unnecessarily, being made of wire or metal clasps.

There have also been reports of criminals using hair ties lined with razor blades to cut off security wristbands, allowing for escape. So obscuring wrist identification bands poses risks.

Possible Security Issues with Wrist Wearables

  • Obscuring medical alert bracelets
  • Interfering with pulse oximeter devices
  • Setting off metal detectors
  • Removing tamper-proof security tags or bands
  • Smuggling prohibited items

Being mindful of accessories on the wrist is important for maintaining personal safety as well as identification needs. Hair ties are generally discouraged in high security settings.


While putting your hair up with a tie is perfectly fine, wearing hair bands loosely on the wrist regularly can lead to some unintended problems. Issues like skin irritation, infections, circulatory problems, edema, and even serious injuries are possible.

It’s best to avoid keeping hair ties wrapped on the wrists when not being used to tie hair. At most, wear them very temporarily when out and about. But prolonged, constant wearing of hair elastics on the wrists is inadvisable.

Be particularly cautious with young kids, those with medical conditions, and in high-risk settings like healthcare and security. There are some good alternatives for functional wristwear like fabric ties, leather cords, chain bracelets, or watches if you want an accessory.

Ultimately, listen to your own body and refrain from using hair ties on the wrists if you notice any discomfort, circulation changes, skin issues, or nerve symptoms. Being mindful about hair accessory use and hygiene will keep your wrists healthy and happy!

Leave a Comment