Traction Alopecia

traction alopecia traction alopecia

What is traction alopecia?

Traction alopecia is when excessive tension on the hair shafts causes hair loss. When the hair is pulled, damage can occur to the follicle. Over prolonged time periods, traction alopecia will cause the production of hair to slow down and finally stop. The main causes of traction alopecia are hairstyles that place the roots of the hair under constant pressure, e.g. tightly-fitting hair extensions, weaves, hairpieces and tautly woven styles like braids and cornrows.

Typically, traction alopecia affects the hairline, causing hair loss around the front of the scalp and at the temples. This hair loss condition is predominantly seen in women. However, men who wear their hair in tight braids, dreadlocks or sport hair extensions are at risk of traction alopecia.

Can traction alopecia be reversed?

Traction alopecia occurs when the hair is being pulled too hard from the follicle, by giving your hair and scalp a break from tight hairstyles, weaves and heavy or poorly fitted extensions, you are more likely to give your hair a chance to grow.

If you are in the early stages and there are still signs of thin hair and follicles, minoxidil (found in Regaine for men and women) may help with regrowth. It is an over the counter product which you can ask a Pharmacist about before deciding if it will work for you.

What are the signs of traction alopecia?

As well as hair loss, traction alopecia can also cause:

  • Redness and stinging on the scalp
  • Itchy scalp
  • Bumps on the scalp
  • Dry or scaly skin
  • Folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles)
  • Blisters on the scalp

If you are experiencing bald spots as a result of traction alopecia, hair fibres may be a good natural solution to conceal them. Hair fibres work by using static to attach themselves to your own hair to make it look thicker and fuller. Coming in a range of colours and shades, they also help to hide any visible areas of scalp. Simply lock them in place with hairspray and be confident they will last all day, whatever the weather.

If you are in the early stages of traction alopecia and you can see that your hair follicles are still alive and attempting to grow hair, minoxidil may be able to help. You should still stop the action that is causing the traction alopecia. Minoxidil increases blood flow which stimulates hair follicles, promoting hair regrowth by:

  • Reversing shrinkage of hair follicles
  • Increasing blood flow to follicles
  • Stimulating follicles to the hair growth phase
  • Extending each follicle’s life span

If you think minoxidil may be for you, an in store LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist would be happy to talk you through your options. You can also buy minoxidil (Regaine) without talking to a medical professional, though you should ensure you always read the label and consult your doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have any allergies.

Traction alopecia is caused by consistently tight hair styles, weaves, corn rows and extensions. If you are just wearing your hair in a bun now and again, you should not experience any resulting hair loss. Heavy or poorly fitted hair extensions tend to pull on the hair and can damage the follicles with continuous use. Similarly, close-fitting plaits and weaved wigs can damage the scalp if they are too tight.