Traction Alopecia is caused by the constant pulling and tugging on your hair due to extensions, braids, weaves, tight ponytails, consistent tight head dressings, etc. This type of alopecia is usually seen in women, but primarily African American women with the increase of the popularity of hair extensions and braids. The good thing about this type of hair loss is that it’s totally under your control. It’s up to you to have it or not. You can also definitely stop it from ever returning if you have had it.
One main culprit is extensions and braid services. Overtime these services can weaken the hair, cause damage, dry it out and cause breakage to the hair making it appear thinner and eventually forcing the wearer to give up on hair extensions as a whole because of their hair loss. I’ve seen this happen too many times… Ladies are getting extensions and braids that are waay too tight and they continue this cycle of follicle abuse every month or two over a period of years until the point of no return. You’ve probably seen it too. The edges are thin or non-existent or the hair line has receded back, but they continue to get them because of convenience until they have to wear the extensions to cover up or end up having to start wearing wigs because now there’s no hair to braid to attach the extensions to. These are very sad cases and I’m praying that someone will receive this information and start to rehabilitate their hair and scalp…
Ladies if you are feeling discomfort with the service you're receiving, that means it’s too tight. I also want to mention, we can also see this type of alopecia in children as well because of the consistent, tight ponytails and head bands being worn around the head. The only cure is to loosen up and/or stop what’s causing it as I mentioned earlier.
Here are some traction alopecia symptoms:
1. Have you ever undone a ponytail and found your scalp feels sensitive to the touch afterwards?
2. Does untying your hair feel like a relief?
3. Does your scalp itch after you've had braids or a weave put in?
4. Have you ever taken painkillers because your hair is secured so tightly it's given you a headache?
5. Do you notice pustules (blisters filled with pus) or papules (little pimples) on your scalp?
This is because of the irritation being caused to the scalp and is a clear indicator that the follicles just can't cope with the strain.
All of these are warning signs that your hair is under way too much tension. Your body is trying to tell you something... and you need to listen!
You may ask, ”Will my hair grow back?”
If you spot the warning signs of traction alopecia early enough and you put a stop to whatever's causing it, then your hair will stop falling out and should - with time, patience and loving care - your hair and scalp can be completely restored to its former glory.
But if the hair follicles have been so badly traumatized for such a long period of time that they have scarred, then the hair will not grow back by itself. Areas of the scalp where this is the case will likely look shiny.
In cases like this, you'll need to think about another type of restoration or hair replacement.
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Kendra Timmons is the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute of Trichology Studies.
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