Traction Alopecia

by Garreth Myers

Traction alopecia is a condition wherein there is excessive hair loss caused due to damage to the hair follicle and dermal papillae. This condition, often seen on the hairline, is caused because of certain kinds of hairstyles like cornrow hair styles, very tight braids, ponytails and buns. These kinds of hairstyles when worn over an extended period of time put a lot of tension on the hair, causing chronic traction on the hair follicle.

Traction alopecia is quite common in many African-American females and Indian Sikh men because of the tight hairstyles, hair accessories and headgears which they constantly adorn. It is also seen in men who frequently use hairpieces in the same location on their hair.

Traction alopecia is not associated with dermatological problems like eczema or dermatitis as sometimes perceived.

Trichotillomania is also one type of traction alopecia. When people have a habit of pulling and plucking out hair from the scalp or other body parts like eyelashes, eyebrows, underarms etc. the condition is called Trichotillomania.

Traction alopecia causes also include, excessive use of chemicals like, dyes and bleaches or hair treatments like, thermal straightening. Regular use of chemicals could alter the hair's keratin levels, which in turn could make the hair brittle, fragile and susceptible to breakage while brushing and combing.

Besides obvious excessive hair loss and breakage, traction alopecia symptoms include arbitrary bald spots or patches, itchy feeling, redness in the scalp and sometimes, headaches.

Traction alopecia treatment can be easier if diagnosed and treated early. Unfortunately treating and trying to reverse this condition at a very late stage is extremely difficult. Hair grafting may be the only option available to reverse traction alopecia at a very late phase.

The most important step which can be taken to treat or rather prevent traction alopecia is, changing the hairstyle. Adopting less stressful hairstyles which are gentle on the scalp and hair can help avert traction alopecia.

Normally over-the-counter medications are not of much help, but if detected promptly, use of certain antibiotics and injection of intralesional corticosteriods have shown to stimulate hair growth in traction alopecia cases. Also, topical application of minoxidil over a period of time has shown potential in some cases.

Herbs and other kinds of alternative treatments like aromatherapy with essential oils and massages are also believed to induce hair growth by increasing blood circulation to the hair follicles.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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