Hair loss is something every woman hopes to prevent. Typically, we consider hair loss a medical issue or a side effect of aging. Believe it or not, certain hairstyles, treatments, or even accessories can cause hair loss. Traction alopecia is a very real concern.
Unlike alopecia areata, traction alopecia is not an autoimmune disorder. Traction alopecia is not caused by anything medical. Rather, it is an environmental condition, triggered by the care of the hair. While it may not be a health problem, it can be devastating psychologically.
The good news is that traction alopecia is typically reversible, especially if caught early. Read on for more information on the condition and traction alopecia regrowth.
Signs and Symptoms
How do you know if your hair loss is traction alopecia? Here are signs to look for.
- A noticeably receding hairline, either at the forehead or the nape of the neck
- Small painful ulcers or blisters on scalp, especially at the base of a braid or ponytail
- A widening hair part
- Patches of broken hair or no hair
- Patches of scarred, hairless skin – this is the most obvious of the signs of permanent traction alopecia
Knowing the causes of traction alopecia is important to begin the reversal or even prevent hair loss.
- Hairstyles – Tightly pulled hairstyles tend to be the main culprit. This includes ponytails, buns, dreadlocks, or braids. This condition is common among ballerinas, for example, because they regularly pull their hair into tight topknots.
- Extensions or Weaves – Glued-in or tied extensions or weaves can cause stress on the hair root. Clip-in extensions should be moved to a slightly new area each time they are used. Use of extensions should be stopped if hair loss occurs.
- Treatments – Relaxer and other chemical treatments change the structure of the hair follicle, leaving it vulnerable to breakage.
- Accessories – Tight headwear or any hair accessory that pulls the hair can cause damage if used repeatedly.
Prevention and Treatment
First and foremost, anyone suffering from traction alopecia needs to focus on preventing any more damage. If caught and treated early, traction alopecia can be completely reversed and hair can be regrown. Once scarring has occurred, hair growth becomes nearly impossible.
To prevent traction alopecia, consider your regular hairstyle. It’s important to change your hairstyle up every few weeks to give your hair a break. This could mean drastically changing your look, but it’s better than permanent hair loss.
- Avoid too tight ponytails or buns and go with an elastic-free hair tie.
- Stop chemically relaxing or perming your hair.
- If you wear extensions or a weave, take them out for a break every few weeks.
- You want to make sure to facilitate traction alopecia regrowth before the signs of permanent traction alopecia set in.
It’s important to remember to not seek out a quick fix. Once the damaging causes are stopped, the hair will begin to grow back normally. For permanent damage, hair plugs or transplants are an option, albeit an invasive one. If you are just growing hair back, give it time. A hairpiece or topper is a great alterative to hair transplants. They are noninvasive and cost-effective, making them a great solution while waiting on hair regrowth or coverage for permanent hair loss.