Traction alopecia is a relatively common condition, but one that is very avoidable. Traction alopecia is caused by the hair being repeatedly pulled, usually by wearing tight ponytails, buns or braids. Hair extensions are also a common cause of traction alopecia, as they can tug tightly on the roots of hair follicles.
Ultimately, anything that tugs repeatedly on the hair can damage the root and lead to hair loss. Only you will know how often and how tight you wear your hair. The tighter the hair is styled and the more often it is compacted, the likelier symptoms of traction alopecia will appear.
The condition is particularly common amongst African-American men and woman, given the cultural dominance of weaves, braids and extensions. Traction alopecia is widely reported as the most common form of hair loss in the African-American community.
In the early stages, traction alopecia can appear as small lesions on the scalp. Redness, itching and soreness on the scalp are key signs of the beginning stages of traction alopecia. Eventually, you’ll start to notice broken and missing hair, typically around the hairline. The good news is, if it’s spotted early, traction alopecia can be treated and reversed.
Wear your hair down as much as possible or wear it in a looser hairstyle – keep changing your hairstyle to avoid putting repeated strain on the same area of the scalp. If you use hair extensions make sure its attached in a minimally traumatic way, or try to wear them for shorter periods of time and give your hair a break between wearing them. It can take some time for the hair to grow back, but if you treat your hair as gently as possible during this period, there should be no lasting damage.
However, if there is significant hair loss, or scarring, it’s worth visiting a medical professional.
Treatment for Traction Alopecia
Choosing the right treatment for traction alopecia hair loss will depend on whether or not the damage to the hair follicles is reversible. Upon first noticing the effects of traction alopecia it is necessary to put into practice looser hair styling practices. It is at this stage that we recommend a potent cocktail of Minoxidil and GroMD shampoo and conditioner.
Both of these potent medical therapies serve to block DHT (the hair follicle killer) and enhance blood flow to the scalp.
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical medication. Research has indicated that the majority of men who use the medicine consistently demonstrate a deceleration in hair loss and a re-growth of miniaturized follicles.
GroMD products are also boosted with Saw Palmetto, Stinging Nettle and Licorice Root Extract, all DHT blockers found in nature. This product also contains caffeine and menthol to dilate the blood vessels around each hair follicle for improved circulation. Ultimately this therapeutic program will stimulate dormant follicles and allow vital nutrients to reach every hair strand.
If hair follicles are permanently damaged, however, they will no longer be able to grow new hair. At this point, hair transplant surgery is one way to restore normal coverage by transplanting healthy follicles to the areas in need of coverage. You can read more about hair transplants here.
Dr. Amir Yazdan, MD, is an internationally renowned hair transplant surgeon, expert guest on Dr. Phil and The Doctors, creator of the GroMD hair restoration product line, ISHRS member, accredited member of the IAHRS and a visceral advocate for patient care. Learn more about Dr. Yazdan or read rave reviews from his patients.