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What Is Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is one of the most insidious forms of hair loss that we see here at BayMed Hair because it is usually preventable and often not detected until it has progressed. Traction alopecia is caused by repeated pulling of the hair which leads to the weakening of roots.

The problem is that most of the time this pulling is gentle rather than dramatic and people are unaware that they are damaging their hair. This is not a dramatic yanking, like when you are plucking out an individual hair. Rather it’s gradual stretching, pulling, and breaking from steady and consistent pulling.

What Causes Traction Alopecia?

Typically, traction alopecia is caused by hair styles or head coverings. It is most common in Black women or others who have hair that is pulled tightly into curls, braids or locs. This does not mean that natural or cultural hair styles are inherently bad for hair. Just that people need to be aware of how best to prevent those styles from leading to hair loss.

People in certain professions can also be prone to traction alopecia due to the hairstyle requirements for those jobs. Traction alopecia can occur when hair is regularly pulled back into a ponytail or bun, or when a hat or other head covering is worn routinely. For example, Ballerinas can suffer from traction alopecia due to tight bun hair styles… as can those required to wear tight-fitting hats.

Some hair coverings are worse than others for your hair. A silk cap or silk-lined head covering being the best. This is because the silk doesn’t grab the hair and pull at it.

Can Men Get Traction Alopecia?

While traction alopecia has traditionally been more common in women because of their hair styles, it is not causally linked to one sex or another. Men who often wear tight fitting caps, hard hats, or who have opted for a “man bun” may also find themselves developing traction alopecia.

One of the reasons we call this an insidious form of hair loss is that people may not initially recognize that they are doing it to themselves. Often when we put our hair into one of the hair styles known for pulling at the roots, we have been taught that hair should be pulled tight. We are taught that there should be some discomfort when putting in braids or ponytails because they will “loosen up” over the day. This is not true!

If your hairstyle causes pain or discomfort, it is too tight and damaging your hair. The reason it is loosening is that your hair is either breaking or it is pulling on the roots – causing them to come out of the hair follicle.

Headaches when hair is in a tight style or when wearing a tight hat can also be an indicator that traction alopecia could be developing. The continual pulling on hair roots can sometimes lead to a headache.

How Common Is Traction Alopecia?

Traction alopecia is very common – appearing in almost one-third of Black women. Especially those whose profession requires or prefers tight hairstyles… such as professional athletes, dancers, and those who often wear head coverings like chefs. But anyone can develop traction alopecia under the right conditions.

Luckily, traction alopecia is fully reversible when caught early. If you begin to notice breakage or loss of hair from your hair styles, it is important start changing the relationship with your hair immediately. Recognizing the early signs of traction alopecia and correcting them may save you from unnecessary pain, stress, and loss of hair.

BayMed Hair and Aesthetics Helps Reverse Traction Alopecia

When you first notice hair breakage after wearing tight hair styles or take off your hat to find it full of hair, it’s time to reach out to BayMed Hair. Our professional staff can help you determine if your hair loss is just part of the natural hair growth process or if you are developing a problem that could lead to significant hair loss.

Schedule a consultation today to speak with our team about your options for hair health, restoration, and related therapies.

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