Traction Alopecia: Causes and Treatment

Did you know there is more than one type of alopecia? As with many conditions, there are different subtypes of alopecia, with some being more severe than others. Traction alopecia is one of the most common and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s most often caused by types of hairstyles which pull at the scalp.

Understanding the causes

Traction alopecia is most commonly associated with tight, restricting hairstyles. If you wear your hair in a pulled back ponytail every now and again, it’s unlikely to cause much damage. However, frequently putting your hair into tight hairstyles can cause damage to the follicles.

A number of styles put you at risk of developing traction alopecia. They include:

  • Extensions
  • Tight ponytails
  • Braids
  • Drawstring ponytails
  • Dreadlocks

Extensions have become particularly common in recent years, causing an increase in the number of women seeking treatment from traction alopecia. So what can you do if you experience hair loss from over-styling?

Traction alopecia treatment

There are a few treatment options available to treat traction alopecia. The sooner you seek treatment the better.

Medications are available, but it is worth noting that over the counter medications are very rarely effective.

Intralesional corticosteroids and antibiotics can usually be effective if the condition is caught early on. Minoxidil 2% has also been very effective.

Obviously you should also stop styling your hair in tight, restrictive designs. Bobby pins are fantastic for helping you to create various styles without damaging the hair follicles.

Hair transplants and SMP are the best treatment options if you have severe traction alopecia. Once the hair follicles are damaged, they cannot be repaired. Therefore, a transplant or innovative SMP treatments are the only way to either regain or cover up the hair that has been lost.

The condition does vary in severity and it can be traumatic to deal with. There are treatments that can help however, but before seeking them out have a consultation with your GP or dermatologist to determine that it is in fact traction alopecia you are dealing with and no other type of hair loss.

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