Black Woman Wearing Braids

Are your braids too tight? Photo: Peter Forest, Getty Images

The old adage that "beauty is pain" became a little too true for a North Carolina woman whose braided hairstyle resulted in her making multiple trips to the emergency room.

A few weeks after getting her hair braided at a salon, Veronica Carter started to experience excruciating pain.

"I got up and I was crying in the middle of the night and I was praying and crying like God please don't let me die," Carter told WFMY News 2. "The braid came out and it was like a little white bump. The headaches became just on one side and it was migraines and it was like a heat sensation."

With a swollen face and closed eye, Carter visited the emergency room on two occasions and on the second trip she was handed over medical documentation that stated she may be suffering from a hard-to-treat bacterial infection known as MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

"He told me it's because the braids was too tight," said Carter, on her medical consultation. "He said her nails, anything up under the nail, if her nails was sharp or if she took it and tried to braid it and maybe cut me right here and I didn't notice it."

Celebrity hair stylist Kimberly Kimble -- who maintains the manes of stars like Beyoncé, Kerry Washington, and Shakira -- says that the number one thing to look out for is that the process should not hurt.

"Getting your hair braided should not be painful, before, during or after," Kimble tells StyleList. "If your braids are pulling from the scalp or if you can see the bulbs coming out of the end of the hair shaft, it's pulling your hair out and is too tight."

To prep your strands for this hairstyle, Kimble advises that you go in to your salon with clean and freshly washed hair. "It should also be very hydrated prior to getting braids by using hot oil or moisturizing treatments like Kimble Hair Care Systems Honey and Oatmeal Moisturizing Treatment."

Maintain your braided hairstyle by sleeping in a silk bonnet and on a silk pillowcase, as cotton fibers can dry out the hair, she adds.

To prevent this hair-raising matter from occurring in the future, the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners are backing new state regulation made effective on July 1, 2010 that requires natural hair care stylists to pass both a practical and written exam before becoming licensed.

"It is a strong and appropriate examination in the interest of protecting the consumer in regards to stylists and cleanliness," Executive Director Lynda Elliott tells StyleList. "A lot of the confusion is that [hairstylists] must get their cosmetology license but this pertains specifically to licensing in natural hair care."

And for natural hair care stylists who have been braiding, cornrowing and twisting prior to July 1, Elliott urges you to take the exam within a year or face returning back to beauty school for 300 hours before getting your license.

While an employee of the salon reportedly told WFMY News 2 that Carter should have returned sooner with her complaint, having her hair restyled isn't just going to cut it.

"This right here is going to be a mark for the rest of my life, this scar. My hair is not going to grow back."

In other hair news, head over to our sister site BlackVoices to learn about a New Jersey man who is behind bars after forcing at least 20 women to work without pay in hair braiding salons.