What is traction alopecia?

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The average person loses around a hundred hairs a day, and more on days that their hair is washed. Most people don’t notice much of this hair loss, only really thinking about it when cleaning out their hairbrush or unclogging their shower drain. However, a small number of people undergo rapid hair loss for another reason, and this loss is usually more noticeable.

These people experience traction alopecia, or hair loss due to certain tight hairstyles. Tight ponytails and braids, cornrows, hair relaxers, and even athletic helmets can cause hair loss. Athletes are often seen with this sort of hair loss. Helmets and hairstyles athletes that wear to keep their hair out of their faces are usually worn for long periods of time. Not only does this result in a sweaty, sore scalp, it may result in bald spots. 

When these styles are being worn the majority of the day, the scalp does not have time to relax properly. The added stress on the scalp causes the hair to be pulled out at a higher rate than normal.

Although many forms of hormonal alopecia are permanent, traction alopecia is typically only temporary, thanks to it being due to an external cause and not a hormonal issue. According to https://www.scalpmicro.pt/smp/, proper care of the damaged hair and scalp will almost always allow for thorough scalp healing and hair restoration.

Solutions to traction alopecia

Avoid overly-tight hairstyles. High ponytails and other styles in which the hair and scalp are being pulled tight for a long period of time should not be worn by people with traction alopecia. If it’s impossible to avoid wearing this style, limit the time spent wearing it. Low ponytails and loose braids are alternatives that still keep your hair pulled back but don’t increase stress on the scalp.

Limit exposure to harsh chemicals. The chemicals found in many relaxers have led to an increased risk of traction alopecia. African-American women who relax their hair often experience traction alopecia often, as the relaxer weakens the hair to the point where even loose hairstyles can cause irritation.

Be wary of hair extensions and weaves. These are attached to the existing hair after it has been braided. Doing this even once is traumatic to the scalp and hair. But, because the natural hair is still growing, the extensions require frequent upkeep. As such, the natural hair is frequently unbraided and re-braided to maintain a natural appearance, causing the hair to weaken and fall out.
Scalp micropigmentation. This is a more long-term solution if someone is concerned about the bald spots and patchy areas. Scalp micropigmentation, or SMP, involves depositing ink on the scalp in such a way that it has the appearance of one’s own hair. This is great for somebody who’s already taken the measures to reduce scalp traction but still wants their hair to look great no matter what. More information regarding this type of procedure can be found here: https://www.advancedsmp.co.uk/smp/

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