Traction Alopecia [Treatment and Prevention]
Traction Alopecia Definition
Traction Alopecia literally means hair loss due to traction (or pulling). It is a form of alopecia, or gradual hair loss, caused primarily by pulling force being applied to the hair. Whilst you may associate the work ‘alopecia’ with uncontrollable, devastating hair loss, the good news is that this type of hair loss is entirely within your control! You can not only stop it from occurring, you can prevent its ever returning, too!
Traction Alopecia Causes
Traction alopecia happens over time and It is commonly seen with certain hair styles or braiding patterns that pull the hairline forcefully towards the vertex of the scalp and has been reported more in African women, in whom it can cause scarring.
Men and women who have suffered from traction alopecia have found that the hair loss occurs most at the hair line- mainly around the temples and the sides of their heads.
- Very tight pony tails, pigtails or buns
- Tight braids or cornrows
- Extension single braids
- Hair weaves or wigs attached with glue, clips or tape
- Certain hair clips, slides, or barrettes that hold the hair tightly and are worn in the same position every day
- Headbands, worn day after day
- Tight hair pieces or bangs
- Tight headgear ex: cycling helmets, safety helmets worn tightly and closely to the scalp
- Repeated use of hair rollers especially on the hairline
- Chemicals, combination of too much pulling and the use of harsh relaxers and dyes.
If you use or do any of the above, then you may find that this has led to areas of thinning hair.
The constant tension in the affected area either pulls out the hairs roots completely, or causes the follicles to become inflamed. As time goes by the damage to the follicles causes them to become wasted away and if you don’t put a stop to the cause of the problem, they will reach the point where they no longer produce hair at all.
Does your scalp feels sensitive to touch when you undo your ponytail?
- Letting your ponytail out is a relief to your scalp?
- Having an itchy scalp after having your braids or a weave put in?
- You have to take painkillers because your hair is secured so tightly?
These are all warnings your body is trying to tell you, that your hair and scalp is under major tension and strain. If you do not listen to these warnings you will notice that sections of your hair are actually missing, or very sparse.
Some people will even notice little blisters or pimples where the hair is under a lot of tension. This is a clear indication that the scalp just can’t cope with the strain.
How is Traction Alopecia Treated
Treatment for traction alopecia is only effective before you’ve arrived at the stage of permanent damage. The GOOD news is that the treatment if you have caught the condition early.
Some women find it difficult to maintain good scalp health because the weave or extensions make it awkward, unfortunately this can make the problem of the traction alopecia worse, that is why it is so important to use the correct products to ensure you maintain a healthy clean scalp.
In addition to removing the cause of the traction and stopping the use of chemicals in your hair, you may be tested for any bacterial or viral infection and possible be prescribed topical antibiotics or topical minoxidil to encourage growth.
There are natural procedures like Low Level Laser Therapy that if caught in early stages will stimulate the hair follicles and promote new growth, recovering the affected areas. The ideal solution is to undergo this treatment while allowing your hair to be completely natural, without using any kind of clips, slides or ties.
How to Avoid Traction Alopecia
- Hold back the hair with a wide loose fabric hair band, nice and stretchy.
- Braid hair loosely, you should be able to get your finger under the braid, bigger braids are better than lots of little ones
- Change the location of your ponytail you don’t want the same tension in the same areas every day.
- Avoid using clip in ponytails, they are heavy and the weight can literally pull out your hair.
- Avoid rubber hair bands and never sleep with any bands or clips at night
- Change your parting as often as possible.
Remember, dealing with traction alopecia before permanent damage occurs, is highly recommended!
Do you have questions about traction alopecia (or hair loss?) – Please use the comments section below.