A viral video showing a streamer shaving his head for charity and freaking out after finding a strange dent in his head right where he wears his headphones has left viewers wondering—can headphones really dent your head?
“I have like an indent here! This is where my headphones go!” Twitch streamer @curtoss exclaimed in the clip that had fellow gamers swearing off headphones out of immediate fear that they might meet the same fate.
He isn’t the first streamer to suddenly be concerned about how their headphones might be reshaping their skull, and the positioning of the indent is certainly suspicious. But surely if this were a real concern, we would hear about it far more often, right?
Can headphones dent your head?
The good news is the simple answer to this question is a resounding no, headphones cannot actually leave a permanent dent in your head.
It takes a large amount of pressure to dent a human skull, and simply wearing headphones for a long period of time does not enact enough force upon your head to change the shape of the bone.
What causes headphone “dents”?
There are, however, things that can make it look like your head has been dented:
Depending on what kind of headphones you’re wearing, how you wear them, and how long you wear them, when you take them off, you may notice that your skin has an indent, or possibly even a pattern similar to that of your headphones, on it.
This is nothing to worry about and is the same as what might happen if you were wearing a hat or a headband or anything else that puts a slight amount of pressure on your skin. You may also recognize it from wearing a watch, ring, or socks that are slightly too tight. Just as all those indents go away in a short time, so will this.
Similar to what happens with your skin after it’s been under pressure from tight headphones for a couple of hours, your hair can also change shape, giving the illusion that your head has a little dent to it. This is just because of the pressure, as well as potentially sweat and dirt collecting between your head and the headphones and causing that portion of your hair to look more matted than the rest. This, too, is only temporary.
How to prevent headphone “denting”
Even though headphones can’t actually dent your skull, even the impression that they are doing as much can be annoying. You may have to experiment with the best methods to prevent your headphones from temporarily looking like they messed up your head shape, but here are some simple things to try:
Take breaks. Taking your headphones off for a few minutes every hour is a good idea anyway. It gives your skin, hair, and ears a break from the effects of being plugged in.
Wear looser headphones. All headphones are not created equal, and some may fit your particular head shape and size better than others. Buying new headphones just to avoid some matted hair may be annoying, but if you’re in the market for new ones anyway, you can take this into consideration while shopping.
Change how you wear your headphones. If you aren’t ready to ditch your current set just yet, you can also try just wearing them a different way, such as having the band that would normally go on the top of your head sit at the back of your head instead.
Add a layer in between the headphones and your head. This may not work out if your headphones are already painfully tight, but you can try adding some sort of padding so that any pressure on your head or hair is dispersed in a different way. This could mean wearing a hat or beanie and putting the headphones over it, changing your hairstyle, or even adding literal padding to the headphone band itself.
How to get rid of a headset “dent”
A dent in your hair or skin from wearing headphones will eventually go away without you having to do anything at all (other than taking the headphones off), but if you want to move the process along a little faster, you can do this by taking a shower and getting your hair wet, or by massaging your skin, depending on which issue you are dealing with.
Do headphones cause hair loss?
Of course, headphones can cause temporary issues if your hair gets caught up in the band and you accidentally pull it out while taking them off, but can they cause more permanent hair loss?
Technically, yes. But it’s very unlikely.
Traction alopecia is something that occurs when there is repeated pulling on the hair over a long period of time—we’re talking years here. In theory, headphones could cause this under extreme circumstances, but unless you are wearing them for hours and hours a day, every day, for a very long period of time, and frequently moving them around on your head causing traction during that time, you most likely won’t encounter this issue.
Can headphones change the shape of your ears?
Assuming you aren’t under the age of ten, your ears have already stopped developing, and wearing headphones will not change their shape. Some have theorized that, because headphones hug your ears closer to your head, prolonged usage could cause them to stay closer to your head—which could give the impression of your actual ear shape changing. But even in that scenario, once you stop wearing headphones for a while, they should go back to how they were before.
What to do if you find a dent after wearing headphones
None of the above changes the fact that a handful of streamers have found strange dents conveniently placed where they normally wear headphones. The most likely explanation for this, as unsatisfactory as it may sound, is mere coincidence.
If you look through photos of people with shaved heads, you’ll notice that just about everyone has one, if not several, indentations that don’t fit with the idea of a perfectly oval or round head shape. Having small dents in your head is normal, and can usually just be chalked up to how your head formed and grew at a very, very young age.
However, if you find a dent that wasn’t there before, or that’s particularly large, or that otherwise concerns you, it’s always a good idea to check with a doctor, as there are serious conditions that can also cause indentations to form—but prolonged headphone usage is not one of them.