Traction Alopecia: The Basics

Hair loss is preventable. While male pattern baldness is genetically predetermined traction alopecia is not. But what is traction alopecia? Quite simply, traction alopecia is hair loss caused by excessive pulling or traction on the hair follicle and, if caught early, is fully reversible. Aggravated traction alopecia, however, can lead to irreversibly damaged hair follicles and permanent balding.

Who is at risk for traction alopecia? The simple truth is: anybody with hair. When hair is pulled in the same way for a long time the resulting stress may cause damage to the underlying follicles. Repeated pulling and strain on hair follicles will damage then and cause strands of hair to fall out. Typically, receding receding hair begins  around the forehead, temples, or nape of the neck. Early signs include a widening of the hair parting and patches of thin or broken hair in places where the hair has been under strain and abrasive patches of scarred skin in more advanced cases along with redness, itching, ulcers and/or infections.

Anyone who wears their hair pulled back tightly, in a ponytail, in braids, dreadlocks, cornrows  ect. is at risk. Hair extensions, which are glued or tightly tied to the base of the hair, may cause tension at the hair roots and consequent traction hair loss. Moreover, traction alopecia can also occur when tight headwear or sports helmets are used on a daily basis. Occasionally wearing tight hairstyles should not prove problematic. A certain degree of daily hair loss is normal – between 50 and 100 hairs in a 24 hour period, which are usually replaced by new hair growth in healthy individuals.

Unlike other forms of hair loss traction alopecia is not caused by genetic or immune factors. It is a common condition among ballet dancers and sports professionals who wear tight buns or ponytails for long periods of time and may affect both children and adults. However, it is more common in older individuals whose hair follicles have naturally weakened over time.

The good news is that, if caught early enough, treatment for traction alopecia can be as simple as changing your hairstyle. Avoid tight hairstyles whenever possible.

Avoid or limit harsh chemical products which may further weaken hair follicles.

If  hair has not  regrown after a few months of reduced strain, the hair follicles may be damaged. If there is substantial scarring visible, the hair may be permanently damaged and unable to grow back. In severe cases, hair transplants are the only option.

If you fear that you may be suffering from traction alopecia or if you have any questions or concerns regarding the nature of your hair loss, please contact us at Modena Hair Institute today for more information. about restoring your hairline or to discuss any questions you may have regarding our available procedures. At Modena Hair Institute we pride ourselves on consistently providing our patients with the highest standard of custom hair restoration treatment available, directly tailored to their individual needs. We are open for in person or digital consultations. Contact us today!

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.