Hair styling has advantages and disadvantages. It can help you express yourself, block out distractions while working out, or protect your hair from the elements. One example is traction alopecia, a type of hair loss brought on by extreme stress, usually from hairstyling.
You might be curious about the kinds of hairstyles that can result in traction alopecia and whether it can be prevented or reversed, assuming you aren’t into the concept of losing hair as a result of your preferred styling techniques. These facts and more are provided below by dermatologist and residency program director Janiene Luke, M.D., F.A.A.D. at Loma Linda University Medical Center .
A: I’VE SEEN POSTINGS ON SOCIAL MEDIA FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH TRACTION ALOPECIA-RELATED HAIR LOSS. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO TO AVOID TRACTION ALOPECIA AND WHAT STYLES OF HAIRSTYLES USUALLY CAUSE IT? A: According to Dr. Luke, tight hairstyles worn for extended periods of time are typically the cause of traction alopecia. Taking breaks from these hairstyles or making sure they aren’t too tight can help you prevent the hair loss disease. But it’s usually preferable to start at the beginning and tell you the fundamentals of the condition.
TRACTION ALOPECIA: WHAT IS IT? According to Dr. Luke, “Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that “occurs” when the hair follicle is subjected to excessive tension or stress, which leads to mechanical damage and eventually hair loss.” As previously noted, styling techniques frequently cause the tension. According to Dr. Luke, “Doctors frequently find traction alopecia in Black patients due to popular hair care procedures in this population,” but it can also afflict other racial groups.
According to where they’ve applied stress during hairstyling, traction alopecia sufferers typically observe hair loss in a concentrated area of their scalp. According to Dr. Luke, “the most prevalent area is the frontal or temporal section of the scalp” (i.e., the area on the front and sides of the skull along the hairline). ‘ The fringe sign is what dermatologists see and what patients might watch for. There will be tiny short hairs in that area that cannot be styled, and you will then see a balding area between the small hairs and the remaining scalp hair. Although the front and sides of the scalp are typically affected, the rear of the scalp is frequently affected as well, especially when tight ponytails are to blame.
HOW DOES TRACTION ALOPECIA OCCUR? Tight hairstyles can cause traction alopecia, particularly if you wear them for extended periods of time. According to Dr. Luke, traction alopecia is basically the result of ongoing stress or tension on the hair follicle itself. It’s commonly known that wearing tight buns or ponytails frequently can cause it, but other hairstyles are typically more dangerous. Certain hairstyles, such braids or dreadlocks, can also contribute to this ongoing stress, especially if they are already overly tight.
Dreadlocks are another high-risk hairstyle, particularly because they are a more permanent style and get heavier as they mature, adds Dr. Luke. So, in addition to the tension on the follicle, the increased weight is what makes this style more dangerous.
According to Dr. Luke, wearing hair extensions can potentially cause traction alopecia. According to her, tension can be added by the weight of hair extensions and, in the case of sew-in extensions, by making tight braids to implant the hair.
What are the most effective strategies for treating and preventing traction alopecia? According to Dr. Luke, if you enjoy wearing hairstyles that increase your chance of developing traction alopecia, taking regular vacations from them can assist. “There’s always kind of the underlying risk, but I actually advocate hair rest periods where you either aren’t using that style or are using styles that are less risky.” Wearing a wig that doesn’t have a band that is too tight or that is bonded, or wearing your hair natural.
If a style is overly tight, it’s also a good idea to have it removed as soon as possible. If there is pain present, you can tell whether a style is too tight, advises Dr. Luke. Or if the area where the hair has been braided is red, or occasionally people develop what “doctors” refer to as folliculitis, which is an irritation or even tiny pustules around the hair follicle. Additionally, the fit can occasionally be so tight that the skin actually tenses.
The sooner you take action if you believe you have the hair loss issue, the better. According to Dr. Luke, traction alopecia is initially thought to be reversible, meaning the hair follicles have not sustained lasting harm. However, if the style is worn frequently or is extremely tight, the hair loss may become more severe and permanent. Early on, she claims, doctors can inject an anti-inflammatory drug to stimulate hair follicles and reverse traction alopecia. According to Dr. Luke, a hair transplant is an option in cases that are permanent.
Various hairstyles might cause traction alopecia, which you can find difficult to give up totally. However, taking care to give your hair breaks, watching out for indications that it has been styled excessively tightly, and seeking immediate medical attention if you believe you are suffering from the disease can all be useful.