The Good News? Traction Alopecia Is Fully Preventable
Traction Alopecia is seen mostly in African-American women.
Millions of people damage their hair by wearing styles that pull too tightly on their hair. Known as traction alopecia, this type of hair loss is caused by styles such as cornrows (popular in the African-American community) or simply tight ponytails, which can pull hair out by the roots and traumatize the hair follicles. Aside from loss of hair, traction alopecia can be characterized by red bumps, infections, papules and pustules. Thinning is first noticed at the hairline and wherever the hair is gathered -- any place where hair is braided or otherwise pulled tightly.
Traction alopecia is a treatable condition, and in most cases it is reversible. Step one is to change your hairstyle to something looser. Step two is to address any skin infections that may linger. For African-Americans who use hair relaxers and straightening irons (flatirons), those practices also need to be discontinued. If the follicles are infected, antibiotics applied topically or taken orally may need to be used in combination with cortisone injections or creams. In some cases a temporary regimen of minoxidil (Rogaine) might help to simulate hair growth.
If braiding, a ponytail or cornrows define your style, you need to search for a different way to wear your hair. Trimming the hair very short may help to establish a new style by allowing the damaged follicles to recover, but expect the process to take at least six months. A wig or other hair replacement system might be used to ease the transition. Using soft accessories and experimenting with new styles will reduce the damage from pulled hair loss.
If traction alopecia is harming your hair, learn more about it here -- before temporary pulled hair loss leads to permanent balding.
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