mhn news & blog

June 07, 2013

What Is Traction Alopecia?

What Can Cause Traction Alopecia?

There are various potential causes of this condition. For example, if a person wears their hair in a specific way for a long period of time, this can cause the hair to be pulled on a chronic basis. This leads to hair loss or thinning hair. This may occur from wearing braids, pigtails, or even a tight ponytail for prolonged period of time. For those who have long hair, this condition often occurs if that individual uses a barrette to hold the hair out of their face.

What About Hair Weaves?

One major cause of traction alopecia is the use of hair weaves. Hair weaves require the use of a braid that runs under the weave and holds the weave in place. While this can often be a tool for adding hair, it can also cause more hair loss as well. In short, the underlying braid can easily cause the existing hair to become damaged.

More so, the hair weave often needs to be removed and the natural hair needs to be re-braided back into place with the weave. Each piece has to be snugly put into place. This tight pulling of the hair often causes enough tension to cause the hair loss from traction alopecia.

African American Women and Alopecia

Traction hair loss is the most common type of hair loss to occur in African American women. The reason for this is due to the use of tight braids and hair weaves. The use of dreads and single braids, including those that are a single extension, are also common reasons for this type of hair loss. This is not a genetic link, but rather due to the styles most commonly worn by African American women.

Where Does It Happen?

This type of alopecia can affect any area of the scalp. However, it often occurs in the areas where hair is being pulled tightly. Most commonly this includes hair loss at the hair line and nape of neck. In many cases, hair loss also occurs at the temples as well as at the sides of the head. Because of the constant pulling of hair in these areas tend to be under stress the most; the hair will appear finer or weaker over time.

What About Wearing a Helmet?

Though you may not realize it, every time you put on a helmet to ride a motorcycle or wear one at work, you put your hair under stress and tension. As a result of this, traction alopecia is likely to occur in those areas, especially if this is a chronic condition. If the safety helmet is worn too tightly and there is too much pressure on the scalp of the head, this condition can occur. The more rubbing and pulling on the hair that occurs as the result of wearing a helmet, the more likely that this condition will develop.

What Can Be Done to Improve This Condition?

There may be some solutions for this type of hair loss. The most common solution for it would be to reduce the amount and type of pulling that occurs. However, this is not commonly associated as a solution because many men and women prefer these hairstyles. Another solution, then, may be to use products and treatments that help to increase the blood supply to this area. In doing so, it is possible to improve the overall health of the hair and follicle, which could help to strengthen it. Treatments with Low Level Laser Therapy may be implemented to strengthen the hair. Additionally, consuming nutrient-rich foods, including salmon, eggs, spinach, and other deeply colored fruits and vegetables may be able to help.

Traction alopecia can be an embarrassing condition. It can also become troublesome when it causes noticeable hair loss that is hard to hide. Nevertheless, it may be possible to improve the overall hair's health to reduce the risk of hair loss. Additionally, hair loss specialists may offer options for reducing the noticeability of the hair loss.