Traction alopecia is a common condition resulting from long-term use of hairstyles such as braids and weaves that cause tension on the hair follicles. Over time, this tension can weaken and damage the follicles, leading to thinning or even baldness.
Although traction alopecia is most likely to occur in women of African descent, it can affect anyone who wears their hair in tight styles, such as those needed for “faux” dreadlocks, cornrows, extensions, or tight ponytails. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent traction alopecia and protect your hair’s health.
Tips for Preventing Traction Alopecia
- Switch Up Your Style: Reduce stress on the same areas of your scalp by switching between different hairstyles. Try to limit tight styles to no more than one week at a time.
- Don’t Pull Too Tight: When you’re getting your hair done, ask your hairdresser not to pull too tightly to avoid damaging your scalp.
- Keep Your Hair Clean: Regularly wash your hair with a mild shampoo, and use a conditioner afterward to keep it moisturized and healthy.
- Use Protective Products: Look for shampoos and conditioners designed to protect hair from tight styles. Also, ask your hairdresser to use products that reduce friction and breakage.
- Massage Your Scalp: Regularly massage your scalp with your fingertips to improve blood circulation and reduce tension in your hair.
Signs and Symptoms of Traction Alopecia
If you experience any of the following signs and symptoms of traction alopecia, you may need to adjust your hairstyle or seek medical help:
- Hair Loss: Thinning or bald patches near the hairline or around the temples.
- Tender Scalp: Tenderness and pain in the affected area.
- Scabbing or Scarring: Dry, itchy patches and scabs in the affected area.
- Clogged Follicles: Clogged follicles may result in a lack of proper hair growth.
Take Action Early
Traction alopecia is a preventable condition, but early treatment is essential for preventing permanent effects. If you think you may have traction alopecia, consult a doctor immediately and discuss preventative measures. Also, avoid tight hairstyles and be sure to use protective products. Taking these steps can save your hair and keep it healthy for years to come.