Traction alopecia is a kind of hair loss due to mechanical damage to the follicle of hair by repeated pulling or tension. This particular type of hair loss is especially common among African American women. However, it is also becoming more common in other ethnic groups. Additionally, it affects people who often need to pull back their hair to wear a wig.
You can reverse the effects of Traction Alopecia if you catch it early. However, in the case of irreversible damage, your hair can’t regroup.
What is the Cause of Traction Alopecia?
This type of hair loss can affect you if you wear the same hairstyle for a prolonged period. That’s one reason why people styling heavy locks, tight ponytails, and braids can have this condition. Constant pulling of hair can damage hair follicles and weaken your roots.
In some cases, extreme dryness results in many scalp issues such as redness, bumps, and tenderness. Repeated hair tension and prolonged inflammation can lead to scarring of the hair follicles and gradual hair loss.
Signs and Symptoms
Here are some common signs of Traction Alopecia to look for:
- The widening of your hair parting
- Small pimples at the base of braids or on the scalp or
- Scarred scalp skin
- Itching, redness, and ulcers on the scalp
- A receding hairline
- Patches of broken or thin hair
Although wearing tight hairstyles is not the root cause of the problem, such hairstyles contribute to hair loss. As per the American Academy of Dermatology, we can lose anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs every day, depending on our hair growth. Doctors point out that Traction alopecia is not a medical issue or emergency; however, it can lead to adverse psychological effects.
Furthermore, this type of hair loss is unlike other hair loss forms such as female pattern baldness, Alopecia Universalis, or s Alopecia Areata. Another condition called ‘centrifugal cicatricial alopecia’ can arise if the hair loss begins on the crown and moves outwards.
What are the Causes of Traction Alopecia?
Here are some common triggers.
- Wearing headbands or sports helmets every day, for prolonged hours
- Certain hairstyles such as tight ponytails, cornrows, and braids
- Getting hair treatment from unqualified hair care professionals
- Extensions glued tightly to your hair’s base, causing tension at the roots
- Certain hair accessories, such as grips or slides
- Chemical treatments and hair relaxers that change the texture of your hair
- Very long hair because they can be heavy and pull on your hair follicles
Furthermore, Traction alopecia is common among gymnasts and ballet dancers since they wear tight ponytails or buns for extended hours.
While both adults and children can suffer from this type of hair loss, it is more common in adults as their hair follicles can naturally weaken over time. Another interesting finding is that Traction alopecia can also affect your pets. For instance, if you leave hair clips in your dog’s fur for too long, your pet’s hair follicles will become weak.
Laser Caps for Preventing Traction Alopecia
Top dermatologists suggest using laser caps to increase hair growth and reverse the damage to your hair follicles. These devices can be an incredible product to help you better manage Traction Alopecia symptoms, especially if you don’t want to get a hair transplant in the future.
Laser caps are FDA-cleared for safe and effective use. They are designed for men and women and use low level light therapy treatment to stimulate growth in the hair follicles on the scalp. Laser caps are one of the best hair growth treatment methods that are completely pain-free, non-invasive and convenient to use in the comfort of your own home.
Here are a few easy tips to follow:
Don’t make tight hairstyles. If you must tie your hair, tie them as loosely as possible or open up your hair at the end of the day.
Limit or avoid exposure to chemicals such as relaxers.
Try experimenting with different hairstyles, so you don’t put pressure on one part of the scalp.
Invest in good quality hair growth products. Nearly 40% of individuals using a minoxidil product can regrow some hair within three to six months. But remember, according to FDA or the Food and Drug Administration, people should not use these products if there is any scalp redness or inflammation.
Using steroid creams and anti-inflammatory medicines can reduce swelling due to Traction Alopecia. In case your hair does not regrow within a few months, you should acknowledge that your hair follicles may be permanently damaged. You won’t grow your hair back if there is substantial scarring on your scalp.
The best thing to do is to consult a dermatologist or a doctor who will suggest the best treatment options. In many cases, camouflaging techniques and hair transplants are the best options.
How to Prevent Traction Alopecia
Here is a brief guideline to help you prevent suffering from this type of hair loss.
- Take breaks between artificial hair use
- Remember, pain equals manage. If your weaves, braids, or cornrows are too tight and your hairstyle is not making you comfortable, ask your stylist to make the necessary adjustments.
- Wear loose braids
- Leave braids in for a maximum of three weeks
- Change the pattern of twisted and braided hairstyles frequently
- Use hair extensions for a short period
- Change your hairstyle frequently
- Avoid wearing tight and small braids and stick to thick and loose braids
- Opt for fabric hair ties instead of elastics
Since our diet contributes a major role in keeping our body healthy, make sure you consume a healthy and nutrient-rich diet. While no foods can prevent this type of hair loss, if you don’t change your hairstyle, a nutritious diet can increase hair re-growth chances. Add more vitamins, minerals, leafy vegetables, brown rice, nuts, beans, and legumes in your diet.
The presence of inflammation, scalp, and tenderness can be cumbersome to manage. The best treatment for Traction Alopecia (especially in the early stages) is eliminating any hairstyles that pull on the hair and using hi-tech accessories such as laser caps for preventing Traction Alopecia.