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How to Prevent Traction Alopecia

Avatar • Jan 5, 2012


Supermodel Naomi Campbell suffers from traction alopecia

By Audrey Sivasothy, author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care

Traction alopecia is a form of gradual hair loss that is caused by tension, stress, and pulling on the scalp and hair fibers. Though traction alopecia can occur in any race, it is most common among women of color who wear their hair pulled back in braids, or in other tight styles, away from the face. Traction alopecia usually occurs as a result of our desire to get that sleek, super neat hair appearance around the hairline. Both children and adults battle with traction alopecia, but the condition is most prevalent in children and young adults.

Traction alopecia does not occur when the hair is worn in a sleek, stressful, pulling style only occasionally. It only results when there has been regular pulling stress over several months or years. Traction alopecia most commonly affects the frontal hairline, especially the temple area and parts just above the ears. Occasionally, traction alopecia will affect the nape area.

Causes

Traction alopecia is caused by cosmetic hair stress. Styles that frequently pull the hair back tightly in one direction, such as braids, twists, locs, weaves, and cornrows, are the most common traction alopecia instigators. Hair accessories like headbands are also major traction alopecia culprits. Chemical relaxer products and excessive heat use can also encourage traction alopecia. Individuals who frequently part their hair in the same orientation can also trigger a widening of the part which is related to traction alopecia.

Symptoms and Course of Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia begins with mild scalp irritation and swelling in the area of tension. A common, early sign of traction alopecia is the formation of tiny bumps or even scabs on the scalp. Hair breakage in the area then becomes apparent. If this strain continues over the next few months or years, scarring may occur to and around the hair follicles. Hair loss is gradual, with a thinning of the actual hair fibers occurring first until total hair loss takes place. Once scarring to the follicles has taken place, and hair loss has occurred, neither follicles nor hair will ever grow again.

Prevention

The good news about traction alopecia is that it is reversible in its earliest stages if the sufferer changes the stressful habit or hairstyle. It may take several months for traction alopecia to reverse, and if the strain has been allowed to go on for too long, the hair may never return. If you experience any scalp tenderness of soreness, this may be an indication that its time to loosen or switch up your style.

The best prevention against traction alopecia is to avoid styles that place strain on the hair and scalp. Vary your hair style occasionally to shift tension and stress on the hair and scalp in a new direction every so often. Loose, free flowing hair styles are the best against traction alopecia. For those who protective style the hair, traction alopecia should always be in the forefront of your mind as you prepare the hair. Protective styling, or regularly pulling the hair back and out of sight, can increase your likelihood of having a problem with traction alopecia hair loss.

Weaves that require tight braiding to secure the hair should be loosened. Avoid harsh glues and weave tracks that pull on the hair near the roots. The weight of this hair can place tension on the delicate hair beneath.

Cornrows, twists, and braids should be braided loosely initially, rather than letting them “loosen” over time.

Those who wear their hair slicked back often like dancers, athletes, and others should consider either loosening these styles or allowing some “free-flowing” hair to remain near the vulnerable temple areas.

Make sure that there is a little slack between your ponytail and head. Try to stay away from daily use of headbands or hats that can rub the hair out.

Avoid combing or brushing dried gel or hair sprays out of the hair. Similarly, avoid sleeping with your hair in tight, bound styles like ponytails or roller-set arrangements. These habits can also damage the fragile edges of hair.

In closing

Keep in mind that once the hair and scalp have had too much, the hair follicle permanently shrinks, scars, and dies– never to produce hair again. For this reason, traction alopecia should be prevented at all costs. The missing patches of hair traction alopecia can leave behind can have devastating effects on sufferers.

Ladies, have any of you suffered traction alopecia? How were you able to remedy the situation?

Audrey Sivasothy is a Houston-based freelance writer, health scientist and author of The Science of Black Hair: A Comprehensive Guide to Textured Hair Care (available on Amazon.com & Barnes&Noble.com).

For more insight from The Science of Black Hair— relaxed, natural or in between, visit us on the web atwww.blackhairscience.com and on facebook & twitter.

References
Hantash, B. Traction Alopecia. Emedicine.com
Other Alopecias: Traction Alopecia. Keratin.com

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Avoid these styles and drastically improve your hairline - Fify LoewenBe quiet & let the adults talkKevin BaconrainbowTeetee Recent comment authors
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Denise
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Denise

Unfortunately, my hair follicle surrounding my temple are permanently damaged and look very similar to Naomi Campbells hair. This was definitely due to years of uneducation about my natural hair and those gorgeous yet harmful box braids and cornrows. I am about to invest in the costly ($7000) hair transplant procedure so I can eventually enjoy of all my new natural hair and discard the headbands to hide my hideous bald spots. 🙁

Tonia
Guest
Tonia

Hi Denise! I use to work for Bosley in Beverly Hills, CA. I know for a fact that hair transplants work ESPECIALLY for black folks. Just be sure its a reputable company that knows how to place the new folicles in a natural pattern or else u’ll be looking like one of them old-timey baby dolls by the head.

Some may think $7k a lot of money for ur hair but women of all races spend much more than that annually on weaves & such.

Good luck!

Dani
Guest
Dani

Good luck! Hope it works out.

AlphaCentauri
Guest
AlphaCentauri

you should look up alexyss k tylor hair products on youtube. you can call her office and speak with her directly and she will create a custom hair system for you and she has grown back the edges of all the women who have come to her with that problem. her hair products heal all hair problems!!!! and it wont cost you anywhere near 7000 dollars!

sosoulful_0125
Guest
sosoulful_0125

Growing up getting my hair braided that was one of my biggest fears was loosing my edges. My mother would always make sure that they were not too tight. I see so many people with beautiful hair styles but the edges pulled too tight but they say that what makes the style last long.

LBell
Guest
LBell

Jc, could you spare a few words on the use of products to remedy hair loss, whether partial or total? There continues to be this notion that nonprescription products such as castor oil, etc. can make hair grow back. I don’t believe there’s any real science behind that…is there?

mangomadness
Guest
mangomadness

+1

Afrinaturality
Guest
Afrinaturality

JC, I could definitely benefit from some information on this. I, too, had mild traction alopecia, which what actually prompted me to go natural in the first place. I visited a trichologist and had no thickened/accelerated growth on my hairline for about six months. My trichologist was certain that my hairline could grow back because I had no scarring and my hair follicles hadn’t been killed off. I was then prescribed Minoxidil (it isn’t a natural product) to use. I applied it to my scalp for a month and at the end of that month I had some growth. My… Read more »

aloofy
Guest

One needs to realise that hair loss is not a bad thing , as if you are destined to lose , you will !! I wish people would start accepting you either have hair or you dont , otherwiwse , I would strongly advise to invest a good weave or wig , and stop being tight , invest in your self as , not being funny , the uglier you are , the more effort you must make !!!!!!!!!!!! Ta

Evie
Guest
Evie

I had suffered from alopecia around my hair line from wearing braids then putting them into a pony tail when I was transitioning. Another thing that caused alopecia for me was tying my satin scarf too tight at the back of my head. What has helped is not wearing braids or styles where I have to pull my hair back. Massaging my temples with oil like Bee Mine Growth Serum and instead of a scarf I wear a bonnet and have a satin pillow case in case it falls off in the middle of the night. It has taken several… Read more »

Angela
Guest
Angela

Every time I see the issue of Alopecia discussed no one every addresses nutrition. What you eat and drink is the main reason for hair damage because it directly effects your hair make up. The digestive system, specifically the liver, has a profound effect on skin, hair and nails. If the liver is not functioning properly you will have dry skin, dull hair and brittle nails. I suffered from Traction Alopecia (as do many of the women in my family)from a stressful lifestyle and not eating enough fruits, veggies, herbs and spices. I had been diagnosed with being boarder line… Read more »

Nzinga
Guest
Nzinga

Rub a combination of All natural castor oil and coconut on your affected areas. Do this nightly right before bed. You should also add the a few drops of the castor oil to your shampoo and/or conditioner. This process coupled with a Vit. E supplement should start a healthy rejuvenation of the dead follicles. Remember when your body is healthy it always has the capacity to reset itsself. Be blessed.

Cara
Guest
Cara

Can you do an article on hair loss as a result of Lupus DLE? I have this huge bald spot on the top of my head because of it and is forced to wear wigs.

KJ
Guest
KJ

Cara, I am with you… I also have bald spots from Lupus. I had a lot of redness and scabbing. At times, it would get so sore I couldn’t bare to touch it; that is when I wear wigs. I use headbands to hide the spots. Luckily my hair is so thick it isn’t too noticeable.It is getting better, but I know if it weren’t for the lupus I would be bald free.

Victoria
Guest
Victoria

Hey KJ and Cara, I was diagnosed with SLE last year and they say I have a deficiency in Vitamin D and Iron. Literally the day after I’ve taken my weave out I have noticed a few bald spots around the middle section of my head — no pain around the area though, but just redness. I am on a lot of medication so obvisously my first thought was that, but then I do know there was a lot of tugging and pulling going on whilst taking my weave out. Whatever the real cause, I’m going to try taking a… Read more »

Barbie
Guest
Barbie

I have Lupus too… 7 years this December.. I have had most of my life shoulder length hair somewhat thin hair but a nice head of hair. I am 61 now so over the years I have had weaves,braids perms etc. surprise I have any hair at all.I decided to stop it all, my hair had the length but spots of baldness ‚decided to cut it all the way down and start all over and begin some treatments and see what is the out come.

Nelly
Guest
Nelly

I recently got a weave which followed box braids which followed cornrows. So I have small traces of it, but right now I’m wearing my hair out and oiling the damaged area with Jamaican Black Castor Oil

LaKreshia Hart
Guest
LaKreshia Hart

I worked as a hair stylish in a salon to put myself though college. Mine was not as bad as Cambells but I suffered from it, as a kid my mother put rubberbands in my hair, which caused tension. I came accross a product after on 2 seperate occassions some cancer survivors came into my shop. One who was completely bald 6 months prior with a hair full of hair. The product is called Organic root stimulator, which is VERY inexpensive. I started using the templebalm, since I had a perm, and after like 3–4 months my hair was back.… Read more »

Nicola
Guest
Nicola

I suffer with this as well and recently started using Dr. Miracles nape and temple balm,no results just yet but i have had rave reviews about it so i’m patiently waiting to see, it says in a month i would see results.

chemiah
Guest
chemiah

Dr. Miracles smell bad, but his products work really well. I used Nioxin Cleanser, Scalp Therapy, Follicle Booster, along Dr. Miracles products. This work wonders for me every time. My mother uses this same regime and her hair is passed her shoulders, she also takes the daily vitamins from Nioxin.

Pam
Guest
Pam

Dr Miracle broke up my hair and did more damage than good. I’ve heard about Jamaican Black Castor oil being about to restore thickness and hair growth — anyone else knows about this?

brittbreezy
Guest

I had tractio alopecia and that was the main reason I stop transitioning and just wore my natural hair,I probably was a boxbraid away from permanent traction alopecia. Then my edges grew back amazingly, sucks for me though cause all of my other hair is 21 months natural my edges are 9 months natural
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/comparison.jpg[/img]

In this pic u can kinda see my edges from July to december, but my edges were worse then that in April they were legit bald

Robin
Guest
Robin

I had a hair transplant at True & Dorin in NY. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Denise
Guest
Denise

Hi Robin, I am scheduled to have my hair transplant on 1/27/12 and would love to speak with you about your experience. I did meet with Dr. Gorin but decided on another doctor whose fees were more affordable (Dr. Ross with Nuhart). I have so many questions and would love to speak with you. My email is deneene@aol.com and I look forward to your contact.

Denise

aloofy
Guest

THE BEST ADVICE , LET YOUR HAIR REST AND GET A WIG ! No point in trying to achieve what you dont have , waste of time , invest in a good wig and allow it !!
let your hair grow naturally , if PUSH comes to shove , just again , get a damm WIG !

India
Guest
India

I’m 18 years old and I have suffered of this for as long as I can remember. I have had numerous relaxers, braids, and tight pony tails in my hair growing and it has taken a huge toll on my hair. I cannot wear any hairstyle without feeling insecure or worried that my thin spots are showing. It was definitely difficult when I went natural almost a year ago, but my jamacian black castor oil is slowing working to help me. If anyone has any other tips tp give please email me at indihodges@yahoo.com, for hairstyle or motivation tips. Thank… Read more »

jen
Guest
jen

that’s how my hair line is in the middle of my head toI just don’t know what to do about it

Steffiqt
Guest
Steffiqt

Ladies peppermint oil those temples and the nape. Everything I’ve done on my hair repair wise I’ve kept it 100% natural. Peppermint oil really work I had devastated damage to my edges..from of course the devil reincarnated as a weave. Peppermint oil will be your best friend, and bring that hair back!!!

Dionne
Guest
Dionne

I went natural because my hair was beggining to thin. Luckily I stopped the weaves and braids before there was any permanent damage. I wore tight weaves and tracks for about 6 months straight. I didn’t realize how much damage I had done to my hair!!

Shay
Guest
Shay

Has anyone tried the at home laser combs for traction alopecia?

Phylecia
Guest

Thank you for this information. For me it seems like the culprit is these weaves, and extensions that require tight braiding in order to secure them in order for them to hold for weeks at a time.

The best resolution is to wear your free flowing natural hair with pride!

http://www.revealyourcrown.com!

NapturalNicole
Guest

I used castor oil with great success to regrow my edges! I blogged my regimen, and result pics here: http://napturalnicole.com/2012/07/21/27667512368/
Thanks for bringing attention to this major issue for the black community!
(Attached pic shows results after just 4 months of my regimen!)
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/PhotoGrid_1353851621196.jpg[/img]

LilRed67
Guest
LilRed67

My iron was extremely low and caused my hair to fall out in patches,which the dermatologist called Areata Alopecia. My hair started coming out from the roots just by touching it. Because of that I cut all my hair off to allow it to grow back healty. I had no problem wearing sporting the clean look but because it came out in patches that didn’t work out. I started wearing wigs, now that my hair is on the road to growing back I want to rid myself of the wings. Problem is my hair came back in some places white… Read more »

chauncey
Guest

I was make sure I don’t get hair braided tight . They keep saying it will last longer .u get my loose so I can feel comfurble. I do leave my some if front out

Hayzel
Guest
Hayzel

I need help ladies! Thanks I don’t know how my hair got to this state but pleas what can I do to revive it? [img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/image‑7.jpg[/img]

rainbow
Guest
rainbow

you have to stop purring tension on it. No more full sew-ins. I don’t know if your hair is beyond repair though. you have to see a dermatologist for him/her to do a thorough exam on your hair follicles/scalp.

Beautifully Misunderstood
Guest

Than you for all of the great comments and advice. I suffered a set back after trying to weave a weave to protect my hair for my impulsive actions (my hands in my hair). The braided braided it too tight. When I took it down after 6 weeks a quarter size patch of hair from my scalp came with it from the front of my hairline. A little deflated & frustrated I thought it was over. See I have a scar on the other side from an accident that I can camouflage rather well. After reading this post and your… Read more »

Beautifully Misunderstood
Guest

*Thank you

trackback

[…] among the finest and most delicate strands of hair on your head. Click here for more on that. — Traction alopecia is real. The results are damaging and sometimes irreversible. — Prevention is the best cure. If your edges […]

Olivia Shaw
Guest
Olivia Shaw

The best way to avoid “track” Alopecia is to stop wearing these phony weaves. “You can achieve without a weave”. Let your scalp breath and enjoy the hair that God gave you! I have not seen many wigs or weave that look natural. It feels wonderful to comfortably swim in a pool or just walk in the rain! Free yourselves!

Kevin Bacon
Guest
Kevin Bacon

Then that’s you. Stop judging others

Be quiet & let the adults talk
Guest
Be quiet & let the adults talk

You were not judging. You were encouraging. She probably has a horrible head of ” hair ” and got defensive about her crappy situation. Amen, Olivia. Amen.

Teetee
Guest
Teetee

My sister’s doctor told her it can be caused by stress and anxiety

trackback

[…] The official term for this condition is ‘traction alopecia’, a form of gradual hair loss that is caused by tension, stress and pulling on the scalp and hair fibres [Source]. […]

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