Hair loss caused by traction alopecia at the temples

Traction Alopecia – Can It Be Reversed?

Traction Alopecia (TA) is a common form of hair loss that occurs when your hair is continuously pulled tight. The tension that is put on your hair follicles, typically from certain hairstyles, destroys your hair growth.

In the early stages of TA, hair loss is of the non-scarring type which means that it is reversible. However, with prolonged traction, the hair loss becomes permanent. Thus, without appropriate intervention, TA turns into scarring alopecia which is naturally irreversible.

Summary

  1. What Causes Traction Alopecia?
  2. Can Your Hair Grow Back After Traction Alopecia?
  3. Is There a Cure?
  4. Conclusion

What Causes Traction Alopecia?

Traumatic hairstyles including braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, tight ponytails and ballerina style buns cause Traction Alopecia. Symptoms of TA are most common among black communities due to cultural hairstyling, however, it’s also present among other communities.

The signs of TA are often mistaken for Trichotillomania which is a condition whereby a person actively pulls out their hair. This can be for several reasons, including stress.

There are cultural practices, religious practices and occupational practices that put people at a higher risk of having Traction Alopecia.

The main causes include:

  • Cultural practices

Both men and women of African descent wear many tight hairstyles that put them at greater risk of developing Traction Alopecia. Braids, hair extensions, cornrows, weaves and dreadlocks are made tight in order to last a few months before the style needs redoing. Thus the tension is put on the hair follicles for lengthy periods of time.

In addition, chemical relaxers are often used on afro hair to produce a straighter and softer aesthetic. But relaxers contain harsh chemicals that damage the hair structure and reduce the strength of the hair follicle. Combined with traumatic hairstyles, your hair is more likely to fall out.

These hairstyles are a part of black culture because they contribute to hair manageability while also celebrating cultural heritage.

  • Religious practices

Men who practice Sikhism are known for wearing turbans from the age of approx. 11. Their religion prevents them from cutting the hair on their scalp or beard thus, they tie their long hair in tight buns. They then wrap their hair with their turban to cover their head completely.

Due to the weight of the hair and tightly twisting it into a bun, Sikh men experience Traction Alopecia, especially along the frontal hairline.

In a similar fashion, Islamic women who wear a hijab also experience TA from pulling their hair tightly before applying their headscarf. After years of wearing a hijab, women also developed hair loss along the frontal hairline and temples.

  • Occupational practices

Traction Alopecia is very common among ballerinas who twist their hair into tight buns on top of their heads. This type of hair loss has a specific name; Chignon alopecia. This causes distinctive symmetrical temporal patches of hair loss. Ballerinas have to wear their hair neatly tied up for practice as well as performances.

a ballerina having her hair styled into a bun

Can Your Hair Grow Back After Traction Alopecia?

The excessive pulling forces of tight hairstyles develops into mechanical damage to the hair follicles. As a result of the traction, inflammation occurs which leads to hair loss.

Repeated traction to hairs develops into chronic and permanent hair loss. Eventually, it turns into scarring alopecia which is irreversible. Thus, early treatment is necessary to make your hair grow back after Traction Alopecia.

Can you reverse Traction Alopecia?

Traction Alopecia can be reversed if preventative measures are taken at an early stage. Because the symptoms are caused by tight braids and other hair styling practices, changing the way you style your hair will of course help. Alternatively, looser styles with help by giving your hair follicles a rest from intense traction.

To reverse early symptoms:

  • Remove traumatic hairstyling
  • Don’t combine chemically treated hair with tight hairstyles

Is There a Cure?

Traction Alopecia can be cured with a hair transplant, if the hair loss has developed into permanent scarring alopecia. Hair transplantation takes healthy hairs from a donor area of your head which are then transplanted into the balding areas. This fills in the bald patches, thus removing the signs of TA.

After this treatment, it’s important that care is taken when creating hair styles as the last thing that you want is to wear traumatic styles that cause the hair loss to return. Be gentle with your hair in order to see hair growth that lasts – without the hair loss returning.

Conclusion

Traction Alopecia is a common form of hair loss that is typically seen among women who wear tight braids, dreadlocks or tightly twisted “ballerina-style” buns. It’s caused by excessive force put on the hair shafts which leads to broken hairs and long-term damage to the hair bulb.

To cure TA these traditional hairstyles should been avoided, or at least loosened or worn less frequently. By lowering the amount of traction put on the hair follicles, the better your hair can grow back. However, in some cases the hair loss in permanent, whereby the only solution is a hair transplant.

No Comments yet!

Your Email address will not be published.