Maintaining a patient’s personal grooming during an inpatient stay is an important aspect of holistic nursing care, but nurses and hospitals alike may fall short when it comes to textured hair care, nurses reported in the American Journal of Nursing.

Non-Black nurses may not understand the care needs for textured hair, and hospitals and nursing units may not have the appropriate products and supplies, the nurses said. The nurses are a part of their institution’s Magnet nursing diversity, equity, and inclusion core council. Under the work for that program, they identified that their hospital’s hair care options only included shampoo, shower caps, baby shampoo, and a fine-toothed comb. Textured hair requires hair oil and a wide-toothed comb.

The nurses presented the need and a solution: Stock coconut oil for use as a hair oil, and replace the fine-toothed comb with a wide-toothed version, which can be used with all hair types. They obtained approval, ordered the supplies, and created a nursing tip sheet on the care of textured hair and video demonstrations to use in staff education and training.

“Most important, we wanted to change the cultural message: Not stocking products suitable for different textures of hair presents fine hair as ‘normal’ or ‘baseline,’” the nurses said. “These educational resources were meant to convey the expectation that caring for a patient's hair, regardless of texture, is a standard of care.”