Image courtesy of DermNet NZ.

Image courtesy of DermNet NZ.

Traction Alopecia

What is it?

An acquired hair loss brought on by the sufferer through extensive and repetitive tension on hair follicles through the use of particular hair styles and practices.. Whilst it can affect people from any ethnic background, it is very common amongst people with skin of colour.

Causes & Triggers

Traction Alopecia can be very common amongst women of colour who: 

- regularly wear their hair in heavy extensions and weaves

- Regularly have braids and cornrows that are too tight

- Use glue to seal the hair line of wigs

- Use chemical relaxers and rollers

- Extensively use gel type products on the hairline

Diagnosis & Treatment

Traction Alopecia can present in many ways. The scalp could be itchy, dry and scaly with small rash like bumps.

In addition, there could be multiple broken and thinned short hairs, especially around the front hair line. Another classic tell tale sign can be patchy hair loss, leaving the scalp shiny and exposed due to the complete destruction of the hair follicle. At this point, Alopecia is permanent.

The simplest initial treatment options include:

- changing hairstyles to a style with less tension and pulling.

- Cutting long hair

- Avoiding the use of chemical treatments and excessive heat.

- Avoiding the use of heavy styling products

Medical treatments can involve antibiotics, topical or injectable steroids, hair growth supplements, anti fungal shampoos, mesotherapy and hair replacement surgery.