Traction alopecia appears as a receding hairline or bald patches on the scalp. It is the result of long-term, excessive hair tension rather than a causal factor of female hair loss. While the damage may be cosmetic, if unaddressed it can result in permanent baldness at the site of tension.
The most common cause of traction alopecia is hair styling. Hair extensions, hair weaves, braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, and tight ponytails pose a substantial risk when worn regularly over a long period of time. These hair styles pull the hairline forcefully towards the vertex of the scalp.
When the hair shaft is pulled tight for a long period of time, the tension can cause serious damage to the hair follicle to the point where the growth cycle slows and eventually stops. The result is smooth bald patches at the site of tension.
Another probable cause of traction alopecia is the use of tight fitting headpieces (wigs) or headgear (helmets). The linings of tightly fitted items such as these can sometimes cause constant rubbing and tugging of localised areas of the hair and scalp, which can result in traction alopecia.
Traction alopecia is commonly seen in African American women and in female ballerinas. It always occurs at the site of excessive hair tension. Depending on the cause, traction alopecia can appear as a receding hairline or as bald patches on the scalp. If left unattended it can lead to permanent hair loss and scarring.
Traction alopecia is a cosmetic condition as opposed to the result of heredity or an underlying medical condition. Treatment is typically not pharmaceutical; instead management usually involves cessation of the chronic traction.
Depending on the severity of the damage, it is possible to regrow hair at the site and prevent further hair loss. However if affected follicles have ceased to produce hair, treatment will not be effective. In severe cases, surgical restoration may be advised.
Treatments that may be effective in the promotion of hair growth include Minoxidil and the HairMax LaserComb. Both are clinically proven, MHRA licensed and FDA approved for the treatment of hair loss in men and women. There are many other hair loss products developed, manufactured, produced, and marketed to treat hair loss in men and women. None (except from Propecia) have the same assurances as Minoxidil and the HairMax LaserComb, however some may be beneficial in supporting optimum scalp health and healthy hair growth.
Many who experience traction alopecia seek medical advice for direction in regards to treatment.