Alopecia is a term used in medicine that refers to the loss of hair. When you pull on your hair on a daily basis, you run the risk of developing a condition called traction alopecia, which is a form of hair loss. If you routinely wear your hair in a tight ponytail, bun, or braids, especially if you use chemicals or heat on your hair, you run the risk of getting this condition. This risk is increased if you keep your hair in a tight ponytail or bun. A person is at risk for getting traction alopecia if they have their hair pulled back forcefully in any style, including braids, dreadlocks, or a ponytail. It can also arise when headwear that is too tight is worn in the same manner day after day. When the hair follicles are repeatedly stressed, strands of hair can be pulled out, and the follicles themselves can get damaged. This results in inflammation, irritation, and possibly even ulcers or infections that produce pus.
Symptoms of Traction Alopecia
In its earliest stages, traction alopecia may manifest itself as little bumps on the scalp that have the appearance of acne. The primary sign of the condition’s progression is the loss of hair and the frequent occurrence of broken hairs. The majority of the time, the condition will only affect the hairs along the front and sides of your head. Nevertheless, depending on how you style your hair, you might also find that you are losing hair in other parts of your scalp. Traction alopecia can be identified by the following symptoms:
- a receding hairline, most commonly around the temples, neck, or forehead
- there is an appearance of little pimples on the scalp or at the base of the braids
- a widening of the split in the hair
- inflammation, itching, and sores on the scalp
- pus-filled sores on your scalp
- folliculitis, which is inflammation of the hair follicles
- areas of skin that are glossy and scarred in more advanced cases
- areas of hair that is patchy, sparse, or damaged in places where the hair has been under pressure
Occasionally sporting a snug hairdo is fine, and daily hair loss is to be expected. The average human loses between 50 and 100 hairs per day, with new hair growing to replace them. Although traction alopecia isn’t physically dangerous, it can have a significant emotional impact on those who experience it. This type of hair loss is distinct from the hereditary or autoimmune forms, such as alopecia areata, alopecia universalis, and male and female pattern baldness.
Causes of Traction Alopecia
You might have hair loss if you frequently do any of the following:
- Pull your hair back into a high ponytail or bun
- Wear tight braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks
- Use hair extensions or weaves if you want longer hair
- Sleep with your hair rolled up in rollers.
Because of the weight of the hair and the way it pulls on the scalp, people with very long hair are also susceptible to developing traction alopecia. If men twist their beards too firmly, it can potentially become lodged in their facial hair. Although it can affect people of any ethnicity, this condition is more common in African-American women. However, it can afflict people of any ethnicity. People who work in professions in which they constantly pull their hair back into a tight bun, such as ballerinas and gymnasts, are more likely to experience this condition. Although it is possible for anyone of any age to be affected by the ailment, the risk of developing it increases with age. This is because the longer you pull on your hair, the more damage you inflict to it.
Steps in Preventing Traction Alopecia
Wearing your hair down can help prevent traction alopecia from occurring. Keep it loose and resting low on your head even if you have to pull it up into a bun or a ponytail. However, there are measures that you may do to help avoid traction alopecia or to lessen its consequences if it has already begun to manifest itself in your body.
- The first step in preventing traction alopecia is to avoid hairstyles and accessories such as tight braids and ponytails that place strain on the scalp. If you do need to use a hairstyle that causes tension, opt for styles that spread the tension more evenly across the head.
- Additionally, limit the length of time you wear the hairstyle and never pull the hair too tightly when styling.
- Another way to prevent traction alopecia is to use protective accessories such as padded headbands or scarves to cushion the scalp while wearing a tight hairstyle. The accessories can also help spread the pressure evenly across the scalp and reduce tension.
- You should also use gentle products when styling your hair, such as wide-tooth comb to detangle and soft bristle brushes.
- Avoid using products that contain harsh chemicals and those that require heat styling, such as styling gels and hot rollers.
- Additionally, try applying natural oils such as coconut or olive oil after washing your hair as they can help provide nourishment to the scalp and keep it hydrated.
In addition to these tips, it is important to monitor your scalp regularly for signs of traction alopecia. If you notice an increase in shedding, redness, or itching, see your doctor immediately. Your doctor can diagnose the condition and provide recommended treatments. These may include topical medications, laser therapy, or hair transplantation. By following the steps outlined above, you can help prevent traction alopecia or mitigate
Treatment of Traction Alopecia
Consult a dermatologist if you want to treat traction alopecia. Your scalp is going to be examined by the doctor in order to investigate additional potential reasons of hair loss, the individual may do a procedure known as a biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is removed for examination. Altering your hairdo is the primary therapy option available for traction alopecia. Avoid pulling your hair back into a ponytail or other tight style, especially while you sleep. If it causes you pain, then it’s probably too tight. Take out any braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks you have in your hair. Try not to tie your hair up into a ponytail or bun, and instead, relax the style of your hair. Reduce the length of your hair if it is excessively long. Reduce the amount of heat and chemical products you use on your hair because both might cause damage. If you suffer from traction alopecia, your physician may recommend one of the following treatments:
- antifungal shampoos
- topical steroids
- medicines to prevent infection in any open sores
- Minoxidil (Rogaine), which promotes hair growth.
- Biotin pills, which fortify hair follicles.
If you’ve lost a significant amount of hair and it’s not growing back, a surgery that replaces lost hair could be a possibility for you.