So, what is Traction Alopecia?
We’ve all joked around about our edges being “snatched” by something we admired or were shocked by; but, what do we do when we experience it in real life? We slick our edges down with gel, braid them back, flatiron them into submission but all of this heavy-handed styling puts the hairline at risk for traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is a form of alopecia, or gradual hair loss, caused by pulling force being applied to the hair. Identified by redness, soreness, irritation, and tenderness of the scalp, this condition can become more severe if your unhealthy hair habits do not change.
Occurring in almost one-third of African-American women, this condition is caused by styles and techniques that put a lot of pressure on the hair like wearing tight braids or extensions, putting significant heat on the hairline, getting chemical relaxers and brushing already fragile hairs. Hair that is naturally curly is fragile. Because of bends in the hair, sebum from the scalp, a natural protectant, can’t travel down the length of the shaft, making curly hair prone to breakage but traction alopecia isn't just restricted to black women. People with very long hair can also suffer from this condition due to the weight of the hair pulling on the scalp. Habitually pulling hair back tightly into up-dos or ponytails can literally take a hold of your hairline, causing it to recede or develop bald spots. Prevention methods you can use to decrease the risks include:
- Alternating your hairstyle between up-dos and wearing your hair down every couple of weeks
- Avoiding the use of rubber or elastic on the hair
- Avoiding chemically processing your hair, especially if you wear weaves or braid your hair often
- Wearing extensions for only a short period of time and taking a break between each install
- Keeping the heat setting low on your styling tools
- Wrap your hair at night instead of using rollers
- Using satin wig caps when opting to wear wigs
Just as hair loss associated with tension does not occur overnight, it will also take time to treat but what can you do in the interim? Hair extensions, when installed properly, can help you to achieve optimal coverage while nursing your hair back to a healthy state. There are multiple extension options to consider to reduce the stress on your hair so that it will not be damaged further. Microlink, Fusion, Braidless or Tape-In extensions are all excellent alternatives to braiding and sewing in wefts. These techniques offer low stress on the hair and be placed throughout the hair near balding spots to mask the affected area. When considering extension after traction alopecia, it is important to schedule regular appointments with your stylist of every four weeks to ensure your hair is properly maintained while recovering from damage.
In some cases, severely damaged hair follicles can become so scarred that they can’t produce new hair. Subsequent thinning, traction alopecia can, thankfully, still be reversed. The Trichology experts at Nina Ross note that it takes a healthy scalp to supply hair with the moisture and nutrients it needs to look its best. Nina Ross Hair & Skin Therapy offers multiple hair restoration treatments such as Plasma-Plus™ PRP for Hair Loss, Mesotherapy™ For Hair Loss and Advanced Scalp-Restore for more extreme cases of traction alopecia. When noticing any form of hair loss, seek the care of a professional to access your current condition and develop a plan to restore your overall hair health and confidence.
Looking for more information? Book a consultation with Nina here.