Don't freak out! Nothing is more scary than dread rot but a lot of that has to do with how it is presented to us on the internet. We are told in superlatives and hyperbole to never got to bed with wet dreads, always dry them completely, or else all your locks will get dread rot and have to be cut off entirely.
Well ... yes and no. What happens to the person who washes her dreads and lets them dry in the sun of a mid 70's afternoon instead of noontime on a summer day? What happens if one dread falls in her face every time she washes up and she just pushes it back out of the way? Or what if one gets wet in the shower and she doesn't notice?
I found out what happens when I sat down with my head in my hands the other day and smushed a dread up to my nose. It was slightly wet from washing my face without a head band and I smelled it ... the very beginning of dread rot. It smelled slightly mildewy when I held it up to my nose and I frantically checked and rechecked several times to make sure it wasn't all in my head. There's actually a slight chance that I was being schizophrenic but after reading up on the horrors of dread rot, I decided it was better to just cut off the stinky part and see for myself.
I looked at my handiwork and couldn't tell much. The inside of the dread definitely had some kind of residue, but that could have been anything from cat hair to wax. On the plus side, I saw what my locks would look like with blunted ends and verified that they are for the most part mature, or at least this one was. Fortunately, the issue was isolated to one dread.
And that was it. That was my little run-in with dread rot. I nipped it in the bud at the first sign of trouble. I changed some habits like making sure they are tied back when I wash my face and using a shower cap when hose myself off. I was pretty surprised that the world didn't come crashing down and I didn't have to throw a virgin into a volcano to save my locks. Lesson learned. As long as you follow your nose and use common sense, you shouldn't lose your entire head of hair to dread rot.