Not all hair problems are caused by genetics, hormones, or environmental factors. Hair loss can also be caused by how you style or wear your hair. Traction Alopecia is a type of hair loss that can be caused by repeated pulling of hair strands. This blog looks at this often-overlooked condition and what can be done to prevent it.
What is Traction Alopecia?
Discovered by doctors in Greenland in the 1900s, Traction Alopecia is common among women who wear tight ponytails, braids, and pigtails. The condition is also exacerbated by the use of chemical products, such as hair straighteners and colors. It also occurs in men who have long hair and wear tight tails.
Traction Alopecia particularly affects the root of the hair. The repeated pulling of hair caused by the pressure created by the tight ponytail weakens the hair roots, leading to a loss of hair. The condition is reversible. However, if the damage is extensive and care is not taken readily, then it can result in permanent hair loss.
What are the Causes of Traction Alopecia?
Tight ponytails, pigtails, and braids are common hairstyles among many people. Women prefer ponytails and braids for both functionality and neatness. Unlike elaborate hairstyles, braids, ponytails, and pigtails are easy to put on or manage. However, this leads to mechanical tension that leads to hair pulling. Gradually the hair roots are weakened and the hair falls off.
Extension or Hair Weaves:
Extension or hair weaves are another cause of Traction Alopecia. Hair weaves pull the hair strands, putting pressure on the delicate strands. Sometimes, hair extensions are glued to the hair, thereby damaging both the scalp and the hair follicles.
Sometimes, headwear, such as sports helmets or tight elastic bands can also put pressure on hair strands. This especially happens among sports stars and players, who are required to wear such headgears for a long duration of time.
Use of Chemicals and Hair Products:
Hair products, such as dyes, hair straighteners, and sprays, contain toxic chemicals such as ammonia and Hydrogen Peroxide. These chemicals can, however, harm the hair strands and weaken the roots. As a result, a little pull may result in hair breakage.
Electric Hair Styling Products:
Blow dryers and hair curlers can alter the structure of hair shafts fundamentally. While this does not happen overnight, repeated use can lead to hair damage. If you add mechanical tension on top of this, the hair might easily fall off.
Interestingly, certain cultural practices can also cause Traction Alopecia. For instance, the practice of tight braiding among African American women can easily lead to intense pulling of hair. Similarly, female ballerinas often complain of this medical condition as ballerina get-up requires a tight bun-like hairstyle.
Finally, in certain cultures, cutting hair is forbidden. What happens as a result is that the back hair grows inordinately, thereby pulling the hair in the front. The roots are damaged and this leads to hair falling off from the front of the scalp.
What are the Symptoms of Traction Alopecia?
Apart from hair loss, Traction Alopecia can lead to a host of other symptoms. These include redness of the scalp, bumps, soreness, itching, scaling, folliculitis, and pus-filled blisters on the scalp. These symptoms are quite common and if left untreated or uncared for can lead to severe hair damage and eventual hair fall.
Treatment for Traction Alopecia
Thankfully, there are treatments available for Traction Alopecia. To treat this type of alopecia, it is very important to see a doctor or a medical specialist. He or she will carry out a biopsy of the scalp to understand whether the hair loss is being caused by Traction Alopecia or any other kind of hair loss. Based on the evidence and the results of the biopsy he may advise you of any one of the following treatments:
This is perhaps the most common treatment for hair loss. A relaxed hairstyle will relieve the mechanical tension on the hair roots. As the roots are free of the tension, it will lead to healing and gradual rejuvenation of the hair follicles.
Since tight braids and wearing headgears for long hours can cause sweat and moisture, there can be a potential growth of fungus. This fungus can cause redness, infection and damage to the hair follicles. An antifungal ointment or powder will help in removing the fungus and help hair to grow back.
Topical steroids can help in bringing down the swelling on your scalp. Once the swelling soothes, hair can start regrowing. Steroids can also boost hair growth.
Biotin is a naturally occurring vitamin that helps protein to bind more easily with hair strands. The protein that Biotin helps with is known as Keratin. This is a structural protein that helps in the growth of hair and nails in mammals. Deficiency in this protein can seriously affect hair growth. As such, you might want to incorporate Biotin supplements as part of your traction alopecia treatment.
What Can I Do to Prevent Traction Alopecia?
The best way to prevent Traction Alopecia and its resultant hair loss is to opt for a more relaxed hairstyle. The main reason for men's hair loss due to Traction Alopecia is the pressure exerted on hair strands. Here are some of the ways you can prevent hair loss or damage due to Traction Alopecia.
Always wear your hair loose. Relaxed styles are better than tight buns, ponytails, and pigtails. If you are afraid that keeping your hair loose can result in your hair getting entangled, then you must opt for a loose bun or a simple hair knot.
Do not use electric hair styling products too much. This is because excessive heat of hair styling products, such as rollers, curlers, and hair straighteners alters the structure of the hair strand. They become weak and when put under mechanical pressure, they snap.
Also, avoid harsh chemicals and hair dyes on hair. They aggravate the symptoms of Traction Alopecia, including redness, allergies, and sores.
Try using natural remedies for hair loss. Coconut oil mixed with a little bit of lemon can help in rejuvenating the scalp. Also, it is important to regularly brush your hair to promote blood circulation in the scalp.
Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed?
Traction Alopecia can be reversed. However, you must treat it quickly and effectively. The more you ignore the symptoms of Traction Alopecia, the greater is the damage. If you continue styling your hair with tight braids, ponytails, and pigtails, then the damage can be permanent.
However, once you start a hair growth treatment, visible results can be found within weeks. Usually, hair starts to regrow within four to six weeks, depending on the damage.
In this blog, we looked at the phenomenon of Traction Alopecia. A very common cause of hair fall, this medical condition is caused by mechanical pressure exerted on hair strands. Hair strands, which are already weak due to the use of chemicals and hair dyes, are prone to damage due to Traction Alopecia.
Thankfully, various hair loss solutions are easily available. Wearing your hair loose, using protein and growth supplements and over-the-counter medications like Minoxidil are available, which can sometimes treat Traction Alopecia. However, Traction Alopecia treatment must start early for optimal results.
Advanced Hair Studio Dubai can help you to effectively treat all kinds of hair loss, including Traction Alopecia, Alopecia Areata, male and female pattern baldness and so on. We provide cutting-edge hair growth treatments, including traction alopecia treatment and male pattern baldness treatment. Book your appointment today for a hair check by our experts.