What Causes Traction Alopecia? How To Prevent And Reverse It

Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss which occurs when excessive tension or pulling force is applied on the hair for longer duration of time. This condition is often associated with faulty hair styling techniques like tight braids or buns.

In contrast to other forms of alopecia, this form of alopecia is behavioral and the hair loss can be stopped or prevented if the action/behavior is controlled.

This condition can affect both men and women and it is important for individuals to be aware of the causative factor associated with the condition,

  • Wearing tight pig tails, braids or ponytails for a prolonged duration of time.
  • Trichotillomania is a mental disorder which is characterized by constant twisting, pulling and plucking of hair. This behavior is often involuntary.
  • Keeping hairpieces or weaves clipped or fixed to the hair for long durations.
  • Wearing helmets, especially compression helmets like those used while horse riding, snowboarding, skiing, etc.

Traction Alopecia Symptoms

Unique symptoms affecting the hair that is pulled or twisted over time are;

  • Thinning and weakening of hair under stress or tension.
  • Loss of hair in patches, especially around the forehead due to excessive stress.
  • Frequent breaking of hair and uneven edges.

Rapidly receding hairline (not in male pattern balding) is one of the most characteristic sign which is indicative of traction alopecia.

How To Reverse Traction Alopecia?

In order to reverse traction alopecia it is of prime importance to be able to identify the underlying cause. Behavior modification is considered to be the primary tool for reversal and treatment of this disorder. Simple efforts like not tying the hair too tight can help in reducing build up tension and reduce hair loss.

In some cases however, behavior modification may not be as simple, especially in individuals who are prone to twist, pull or pluck their hair unconsciously. This condition is often associated with elevated levels of anxiety and stress and a comprehensive approach may be required, which may comprise of meditation, dietary corrections and managing triggers promptly.

There are a host of other treatment options for the management of traction alopecia, though there are no specific drugs or prescription medications to treat the condition. These treatment options include,

  • Low level laser therapy for hair, which is approved by the FDA and works by stimulating blood flow to hair follicles, which in turn triggers hair growth.
  • Follicular unit extraction hair transplant is a technique which grafts individual hair follicles and places them around the areas of hair thinning or balding.

However these techniques need to be used in conjunction with behavior modification therapies.

Prevention Of Traction Alopecia

Here are some tips that can help prevent traction alopecia,

  • Avoid tying the hair too tight in the form of buns or ponytails.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals for hair treatments and conditioning. Alternatively use natural products like avocado oil, wheat germ oil, etc to condition the hair.
  • Massage the scalp regularly with or without coconut oil. Massaging promotes blood flow in the scalp and stimulates dormant hair follicles.
  • Include a healthy and nutritious diet as a part of the treatment plan. Include fresh fruits and nuts like almonds, walnuts, etc in your diet also include fish and seafood products. These foods contain important fatty acids and nutrition that is essential to strengthen the hair and promote hair growth.

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