When it comes to hair loss, we’re often at the mercy of our genetics. But have you ever heard of traction alopecia? It turns out that it’s one type of hair loss that’s perfectly within our control — and you might be contributing to it without even realizing. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to treat it and even reverse it.
What is traction alopecia?
Unlike other major types of alopecia caused by genetic factors, traction alopecia refers to hair loss that’s caused by ongoing, repeated pulling on the hair. This doesn’t mean that someone is literally tugging your hair; it means that small, daily habits like putting your hair in a ponytail, bun, or tight braid, or using rollers every night, slowly begin to weigh on your follicles over an extended period of time, eroding them in the process.
Even tugging on your hair when using a straightener or blow dryer regularly can weaken hair follicles over time, and the high heat from those tools can cause additional strain on your strands.
What are the symptoms of traction alopecia?
Women with traction alopecia don’t often lose chunks of hair or develop baldness like they do with other conditions. Rather, most of the hair loss takes place along the hair line.
In addition to seeing a receding or uneven hairline over time, those with the condition may also notice pimple-like bumps forming where the hair meets the scalp, as well as redness, itching, scaling, and follicle inflammation in the same area. Individual hair strands might start to break off unevenly do to the strain, too.
Can you reverse traction alopecia?
The good news is that you can can reverse early signs of traction alopecia by wearing your hair down more or in styles that aren’t tugging on the hair follicles if you need to keep it out of your face, like a very loose braid. You can also improve the health of your follicles by using heat products less often, not wearing rollers at night, and avoiding chemical processing on the hair, like relaxers. Essentially, the less you fuss with your hair over time, the better!
If you’ve already begun to see significant hair loss from traction alopecia, the follicle may be damaged and you may not be able to regrow hair. But you can stop more hair loss from occurring by taking those steps.
On top of that, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to strengthen your hair follicles and prevent hair loss, like eating a diet full of healthy fats and B vitamins or regularly using an apple cider vinegar rinse.
Lastly, if you want more specific recommendations and solutions based on your circumstances and medical history, it’s time to take a visit to your dermatologist. But for the time being, it’s time to embrace your locks and let that ponytail out!