Don’t we all love a good hair-do? Not only does it add charm to our personality and spunk to our look, it is often convenient and presentable. Which is why we need to ensure our hair is healthy enough to be able to try anything different with it in the first place.
One easily unnoticed hair problem is traction alopecia. It is the loss of hair due to persistent gently tugging on the hair shaft. The hair bulbs are gradually loosened from the tight hold of hair follicles. This damages the hair follicles, causing the growth of hair to first become scanty and then gradually cease in the affected part of the scalp.
The parts of the scalp that are most under pressure face maximum hair loss.1 Scalp margins are the most affected, making a receding hairline a very prominent symptom.
6 Common Causes Of Traction Alopecia
Certain hairstyles, often very specific to cultures, and styling methods can leave you vulnerable to traction alopecia. Women of African descent are particularly susceptible as they resort to braiding and straightening techniques to make their naturally curly hair more manageable.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of this condition:
1. Tying Tight Ponytails And Buns
Ponytails are easy and simple hair-dos that help neatly keep our hair off our faces. But if you tie a ponytail too tight, you are creating tension in the hair follicles – a prerequisite for traction alopecia. Similar is the case for top knots and man buns.
Ponytails generally cause hair loss along the margins of the scalp, that is, from where you tug the hair back. The parting may also gradually widen. Tight buns usually cause horseshoe alopecia toward the centee of your scalp.
2. Making Taut Braids
Braids look very elegant and are a great way to tame wild hair. But here again, tights braids are a problem, at least in the long run. Cornrows, dreadlocks, and man braids fall into this group as well.
As you maintain a strong tensile pull on the hair strands while you braid, you are loosening the strands from their follicles. Depending on the direction in which you braid and the number of braids, you may develop marginal or central alopecia.
3. Attaching Hair Extensions
Being a fashion trend that has been around for a while, colored hair extensions may contribute toward traction alopecia as well. Hair extensions are generally tightly clipped onto the roots of sections of hair, placing constant stress on them. This can result in those sections falling off over time.
Dancers and other performers often have to adorn their hair with extensions to glamorize their appearances, making them particularly vulnerable to traction alopecia.
4. Wearing Tight-fitting Hairpieces
Going by the same logic, tight-fitting hairpieces may cause traction alopecia as well. If you must regularly wear such hair accessories, be smart and change where you place them on your crown each time.
5. Using Hot Rollers For Curls
Hair styling devices like hot rollers, too, create tension in your hair follicles. As is required when using a hot roller, pulling sections of hair into taut curls may give you lovely locks but is not so great for your scalp.
Regular usage of hot rollers generally causes irregularly shaped areas of alopecia.
6. Styling With A Hair Straightener
Most of us are aware of the damaging effects of hot hair straightening irons. Here is another one. As you meticulously make your way through your entire volume of hair, you pull your strands downward with a repeated, noticeable pull. This can result in hair loss.
In addition to these reasons, even vigorously brushing your hair or using a nit comb can result in traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is mostly transient, which means it does not last very long and is not permanent. There may, however, be scarring and other signs of inflammation for some time.
Traction Alopecia Is Reversible In Most Cases
That is, of course, in less severe cases. It usually takes just a couple of months to reverse your symptoms should you develop this condition. But for that early detection is very important. As soon as you suspect balding, swap the hair-pulling styles for more relaxed ones.
Those suffering from early androgenetic alopecia or early patterned hair loss (before the age of 30) may need specialized treatment. The reversal of symptoms is not all that simple in such cases.
Prevention of traction alopecia is easy – just go easy on your hair and keep the tugging to a minimum.
|↑1||Qi, Ji, and Luis A. Garza. “An overview of alopecias.” Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine 4, no. 3 (2014): a013615.|