Traction Alopecia: What Is It and Can It Be Prevented?

traction alopecia

Losing your hair can be frightening and even an extremely emotional experience, especially for younger people who are otherwise in good health. In this post, we’ll explore one answer to hair loss: traction alopecia.

What Is Traction Alopecia?

Alopecia is a general term for hair loss [1]. Alopecia can affect just your scalp or the hair throughout your whole body.

Traction alopecia is the term for alopecia that’s caused by repeatedly pulling on your hair [2]. When the hair is pulled, it causes traction that tugs on the hair follicles. When this happens on a consistent basis, the hair follicles become weak and begin to fall out.

The good news is that in most cases, hair loss caused by this type of alopecia is not permanent, although there are some cases of extremely prolonged use that can cause permanent damage to the follicle, which prevents the hair from re-growing.

Who Gets Traction Alopecia?

It affects people of all races, genders, and backgrounds, but evidence suggests it is most prevalent among African-American females [3].

Dancers, cheerleaders, military personnel, and other people who are required to regularly pull their hair back tightly also commonly experience traction alopecia. People with very long hair also tend to suffer from it as the weight of the hair continuously pulls on the scalp.

What Causes Traction Alopecia?

As we mentioned, it is caused by hair that is tugged or pulled too tight. Over time, repeated tugging and pulling on the hair follicle loosens the hair shaft. 

Some hairstyles that have been shown to cause traction alopecia include:

Very tight ponytails

Very tight buns

Dreadlocks

Tight braids or cornrows

Weaves

Hair extensions

Overnight hair rollers

Preventing Traction Alopecia

The bright side is that unlike some other forms of alopecia, this type of alopecia can be avoided pretty easily by changing up your routine a bit and wearing your hair down as much as possible while also limiting ultra-tight hairstyles. This prevents the condition by relieving the pressure and tugging on the scalp.

Other tips to help limit traction alopecia include:

Wear weaves or extensions for short periods of time, allowing your hair to breathe in between.

Limit how often you straighten, blow-dry, and use other heat stylers on your hair.

Limit chemical processing and coloring of hair.

Avoid using tight ponytail holders or rubber bands.

Put your hair up in a loose ponytail or bun, without pulling tightly. Loose braids are another excellent choice to keep hair out of your face without pulling it too tightly.

Treatments

To successfully treat it, you must first identify — and often treat — the root cause of the tugging. Changing your hairstyle to avoid tight styles can help encourage hair growth. In addition, some treatments might be possible to help promote hair regrowth.

If you’re experiencing thinning hair or hair loss, contact Custom Hair Tampa Bay today by clicking here.

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-solitary-hair-ponytail-3680681/

Footnotes

1. https://nyulangone.org/conditions/hair-loss/types

2. https://www.healthline.com/health/traction-alopecia

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470434/