Traction Alopecia: A Comprehensive Guide for Hair Loss Sufferers

Traction Alopecia

A Comprehensive Guide to Traction Alopecia: How Hair Loss Sufferers Can Take Control of their Health

Suffering from hair loss is extremely difficult for many people and can be incredibly discouraging. Traction alopecia is a specific type of hair loss that is caused by excessive tension on the hair from braids, cornrows, weaves, hair pieces, and ponytails. Understanding the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for traction alopecia can help sufferers find relief.

What is Traction Alopecia?

Traction alopecia occurs when the hair is pulled too tight by an external force. This causes an inflammatory response in the scalp, which results in strands of hair beginning to thin, become weak, and break off. Those affected often develop bald patches on their scalp, which can be embarrassing and distressing. If the pulling or tension is not stopped, the process of hair loss becomes permanent.

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Who is Prone to Traction Alopecia?

Though anyone can develop traction alopecia, certain groups are especially vulnerable. African American women are particularly susceptible to this type of hair loss because they are more likely to braid and wear weaves. Other groups that may be predisposed to traction alopecia include those who regularly wear tight hairstyles, such as ponytails, buns, cornrows, and dreadlocks, over prolonged periods of time.

Signs and Symptoms of Traction Alopecia

It is important for people to be aware of the early signs of traction alopecia, so that intervention and treatment can be sought before the hair loss becomes permanent. Some common signs and symptoms of traction alopecia include:

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Scalp Dryness

The scalp may become dry and itchy with recurring dandruff.

Scalp Sores

Painful boil-like sores can appear on the scalp.

Hair Breakage

The hair is prone to breaking off in the affected area.

Scalp Redness

The scalp may become inflamed and there may be visible redness in the affected area.

Gradual Hair Loss

Over time, more and more scalp will show through thinning hair, and eventually bald patches may form.

Preventing Traction Alopecia

The most important thing for anyone who is prone to traction alopecia is to practice hair-care techniques that minimize tension on the scalp. This includes only using gentle combs and brushes, avoiding tight hairstyles, using natural products on the hair and scalp, and limiting the use of heat-styling tools. Keeping the scalp healthy and avoiding potential irritants is also important and taking Vitamin A, B, and E supplements may help the body produce and maintain healthy hair.

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Treating Traction Alopecia

For those who have already developed traction alopecia, it can be treated with a combination of different approaches. Dermatologists can prescribe topical medications to clear away bacteria and promote healing, while laser light therapy can be used to stimulate hair growth. Some doctors may also recommend hair transplants to restore hair in bald patches.


Traction alopecia is an incredibly distressing form of hair loss, but understanding the risk factors and early signs of the condition can help people take action for treatment before the hair loss becomes permanent. Though there are no guarantees, following proper hair care practices, getting medical treatment, and using new technologies can make a difference.