Hair loss, also known as alopecia, can have an effect on your entire body, not just your scalp. There are several forms and causes of alopecia, but traction alopecia is one that is totally preventable. But is it reversible? First, let’s talk about what traction alopecia is and what causes it.
Traction alopecia occurs when the hair is being pulled too hard from the follicle, which results in hair breakage and alopecia, or hair loss. As the hair follicle is pulled, the hair bulb continues to grow closer and closer to the scalp surface, until eventually the bulb is no longer able to receive nutrient supply from the bloodstream and stops growing. Wearing braids or twists that are too tight, are a culprit, as well as wearing weaves and extensions too tightly, or for extended periods of time. Chemical processing can be a cause as well.
If you’re experiencing traction alopecia and are able to determine that in the early stages, it is completely reversible. However, if it goes untreated, it can result in permanent, irreversible hair loss. Here are some steps to take if you have discovered you’ve been affected by traction alopecia:
Stop wearing tight hairstyles. Hairstyles such as cornrows, braids, twists, with or without extensions, sewn in hair and tight ponytails can cause traction alopecia. So you want to avoid wearing these styles if you are experiencing early onset hair loss. Continuing to wear them over a long period of time can cause irreversible damage. Look for hair stylists and braiders who care about your edges. If you’re sitting in a salon, and the stylists is pulling your hair too tight, speak up. If you’re ignored, get up and walk out.
Cleanse your hair and scalp regularly. Cleansing the hair and scalp using products for dry, damaged hair, or those with peppermint or tea tree oils are great for ensuring the hair follicles are open and the blood flow to the scalp is stimulated. Add a scalp massage in during your cleansing routine to stimulate the scalp even more. Applying heavy oils to the scalp can clog hair follicles, making it difficult for them to thrive. You also don’t want to wash too frequently, which can dry out the hair and scalp.
Avoid using chemicals. Using chemical relaxers or coloring can cause traction alopecia in and of themselves if processed incorrectly. If you are experiencing traction alopecia, you want to avoid any chemical processing of the hair at all so you don’t cause even more damage. Give your hair time to recuperate and rejuvenate.
Focus on healthy eating and exercise. Making improvements in your diet and activity is a way to help revers traction alopecia from the inside. A diet rich in protein, zinc, biotin, vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids helps aid in hair growth. Regular exercise also stimulates the scalp and blood circulation, as well as relieving stress which can also affect how our hair grows.
Seek professional help. If your traction alopecia worsens, you definitely want to see a clinical trichology practitioner or dermatologist. They can help determine what stage of alopecia you’re in. If it is in the late stages, there are no medical treatments to reverse the damage. Hair transplants are the only option, and while they can be rather costly, most times they are very effective.
When it comes to traction alopecia, prevention is vital. Try to avoid it all together by taking the utmost care of your edges and not pulling too tightly for buns and ponytails. Only have chemical processing done by a licensed and experienced professional, and speak up if a hairstylist pulls your hair too tightly. And look of for thinning or balding so that you can catch traction alopecia in its early stages.
Have you or anyone you know experienced traction alopecia?