Traction Alopecia

What is traction alopecia?
Traction alopecia is a scalp condition caused by excessive tension on the hair follicles from repeated tight hairstyles. This can cause hair loss, pain, breakage and irritation on facial skin at the hairline or on the crown of the head. Hair loss can become permanent if left untreated.

What causes traction alopecia?
Certain hair care practices and styling techniques put African American women specifically at risk, such as tight cornrows and braiding patterns. Men, women and children are subject to experiencing hair loss due to traction alopecia if they wear tight hairstyles of any kind, such as a tight bun, braid or ponytail every day in the same way, although a person's threshold for prolonged tension on the hair follicles is hereditary.

How do we treat traction alopecia?
A thorough physical examination of your scalp and any hair loss or irritated areas along with a consultation about your haircare practices will confirm if your hair thinning, pain or hair loss is being caused by your daily hairstyle. To reverse traction alopecia and allow hair to re-grow, you need to eliminate the source of the trauma, which is the constant pulling from the tight hairstyle. We may also prescribe and recommend the following to help reverse hair loss from traction alopecia as soon as possible:

What can I expect?  
Medications can quickly clear up any pustules, pimples and rashes that occurred due to the pulling of the tight hairstyle around your hair line. Hair that has been lost, however, will take more time to re-grow. Loosen your hair style, let your hair down, cut your hair short or cover up the damage with a wig or a head wrap. Simply loosening and changing the type, position or location of braids or buns can provide relief so they don't pull the same follicles the same way every day.

Have a question about your treatment?
We have a dedicated triage nurse (RN) who answers patient questions during office hours. If you have a problem or question about a procedure or a prescribed medication, please call our office and ask to speak to our nurse. If she is unable to answer your question, she will consult with your practitioner and return your call.