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What Is Traction Alopecia? Causes, Prevention, and Treatments

Too much tension on the hair may be the culprit of your hair loss. Learn about how tension alopecia can happen and how to stop it.

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What is Traction Alopecia?

Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss that develops due to the way you style and treat your hair.

Hair that is repeatedly pulled tightly leads to the loosening of the hairs in the follicles which can pull out and cause patches of lost hair. Generally, if this condition is caught early and the tight hairstyles are stopped, hair is likely to grow back and return to its normal state.

However, if tension alopecia is left untreated without changing the tight styles, the follicles can scar over and lead to permanent hair loss in the affected areas.

What are the most common causes of Traction Alopecia?

The most common causes of traction alopecia are tight hairstyles like cornrows, dreadlocks, braids, tight ponytails, weaves, commonly sleeping in tight hair rollers, or chemically relaxing the hair.

These hairstyles may be chosen out of personal preference, due to religious reasons, or due to a required hairstyle for certain professions like a ballerina or gymnast.

Some people experience traction alopecia when their hair is very long due to the weight of the hair itself pulling on the follicle.

The long-term use of very tight head coverings, hats, helmets, or headgear can also put pressure on the follicles and lead to the development of traction alopecia.

Less often, this condition can also develop from a patient repeatedly pulling and tugging at the hair as in the case of Trichotillomania.

What are the signs and symptoms of Traction Alopecia?

Traction alopecia may present differently in patients depending on the cause, their hair type, and how long the condition has gone on.

The symptoms of traction alopecia may include:

  • Scaling
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Inflammation
  • Loss of hair around the perimeter or front of the head
  • Hair thinning
  • Short broken hairs
  • Potential wounds along the hair loss area
  • Folliculitis
  • Small bumps and pustules

Some people may present with a “fringe sign” where there is a ring of short “baby hairs” just outside of the hair loss area. These are hairs that were too short to be tightly pulled into the tense hairstyle and were retained.

How can you avoid developing Traction Alopecia?

The best way to avoid the development of traction alopecia is to stop or reduce the amount of time that you wear your hair in tight hairstyles. If you have to wear your hair up, take the time to secure the hair lower and more loosely so that there is less tension on the roots.

Traction alopecia may be worsened when tight hairstyles are worn on hair that has been chemically relaxed since the hair is weakened. If you want to chemically relax your hair, then opt for looser styles or wear your hair down more often than not.

If you go to a hairstylist to do your hair, speak up if the style feels too tight. If you like wearing your hair in braids, opt for larger braids over smaller ones that can pull more tightly on the follicles.

If your hair is very long and pulling on your scalp from the weight of your hair, cutting your hair to a more manageable length may help avoid or reverse the traction alopecia.

Avoid sleeping in hair rollers, or other styling devices that can pull your hair tightly while you sleep.

How can you treat Traction Alopecia once it occurs?

If traction alopecia is caught early, the best treatment is to stop the tight hairstyle or other root cause of the issue. If the cause is stopped early, hair is likely to regrow and return to its normal state.

If the traction alopecia comes along with inflammation of the scalp, wounds, or folliculitis, these might be treated with topical steroid creams or antibiotics to prevent infection.

Minoxidil is sometimes used to help increase the regrowth of hair loss areas. Minoxidil can be used in men and women, talk to your doctor to see if they feel minoxidil may help with your traction alopecia hair losses. Your doctor may recommend biotin or hair supplements to support the healthy regrowth of your hair and potentially help along the regrowth process.

If the traction alopecia has gone on for too long, the follicles may scar over and no longer be able to grow hair. This may lead to a shiny or scarred appearance of the scalp. In this case, hair transplants, wigs, or other ways to mask the hair loss may be an option.

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Here at Strut Health, we try to help men and women with hair loss, no matter what the root cause is. We utilize a range of prescription and non-prescription ingredients to help design a formula that fits you.

If you are interested in seeing if a Strut Hair formula is a good option for your hair growth goals, you can have a free online consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.

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