Traction alopecia is condition commonly associated with hair styles which cause tension on the hair follicles, and is most prevalent in individuals who wear hair styles such as braids, plaits and tight ponytails, buns or improperly fitted hair extensions.
Traction alopecia is a form of gradual hair loss which is mainly caused by tension, or a pulling force applied to the hair. It is generally referred to as the recession of the hairline due to chronic, continual hair pulling, and is common amongst African American women who tie their hair in tight cornrows.
Traction alopecia is probably a lot more common than you may think, with many of us having experienced symptoms throughout our lives without realising it. Have you ever felt relief at untying your hair after a long day? Found yourself massaging your scalp when your hair has been secured in an uncomfortable position? Taken painkillers because your hair has been tied too tightly? If yes, then whether you have ever worn hair extensions or not, traction alopecia has been experienced by us all at some point.
Most common causes of traction alopecia include, but are not limited to:
Headgear such as cycling helmets
What happens to the hair with traction alopecia?
If your hair is put under any kind of prolonged pressure, especially around the temples or behind the ears where hair is very weak, you could in time notice the hair starting to slowly thin out. If ignored, over a period of time the constant tension could cause the hair to pull out at the root completely, causing the follicle to become inflamed and damaged so that it can no longer produce hair.
Contrary to popular believe, not all hair extension wearers run the same risk of experiencing traction alopecia, as traction alopecia is only associated with hair extensions that have not been fitted correctly. With the correct fitting and experienced technician, traction alopecia should not be a risk for hair extension wearers.
The good news
The good news about traction alopecia is that although seemingly a scary word, as many associate the word alopecia with uncontrollable hair loss, traction alopecia is entirely within your control, and not only can you stop it in the rare event you do suffer, you can also stop it from returning.
If you believe you may be at risk of traction alopecia the best way to stop and reverse this is to remove the pressure on your hair follicles. If you tie your hair up daily in a very tight ponytail, simply loosening it will release your scalp and stop the potential damage this could be causing your hair follicles. If you have had hair extensions fitted and believe they are too tight, let your hair extension technician know who so that they can be loosened slightly to relieve any pressure on your scalp.
Traction alopecia is a condition that occurs when prolonged and chronic pressure is applied to the hair follicles, therefore by simply recognising that you can feel the pressure and tension on your scalp and adjusting accordingly, you will avoid and prevent the occurrence of traction alopecia.