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Traction alopecia: hair loss caused by tightly styled hairstyles

24 June 2022

Do you often wear tight tails, braids or dreadlocks? And do you notice that lately you experience more hair loss around the hairline? Then there is a chance you are suffering from traction alopecia, literally translated as 'hair loss by pulling'.

Traction Alopecia

The causes of traction alopecia

As indicated, traction alopecia (also called mechanical alopecia) is caused by too much tension on the hair. This tension is caused, for example, by wearing tails or braids that are too tight, or when you have dreadlocks. Hair loss can also occur when extensions are put on too tight or when they are left on too long.

Chemical hair relaxation is also a well-known cause of this type of hair loss. This is a well-known styling method, especially for women with frizzy hair. A third of all women with frizzy hair also suffer from traction alopecia.

Read the study here: Traction alopecia: the root of the problem

When tails, braids, dreadlocks or extensions are too tight, the hair roots experience a lot of tension. If this tension is maintained over a longer period of time, blood flow to the hair follicles deteriorates. This damages the hair roots, causing your hair to fall out permanently.

How to recognise traction alopecia

This type of hair loss often occurs initially around the hairline. The balder areas are therefore initially mainly found on the neck, above the ears and at the hairline of the forehead. Before this hair loss occurs, you should be able to recognise the tension on the hair. If you suffer from bumps around the hairline, this is a sign that your hairs are too tightly bound, which causes inflamed hair follicles.

If you have a ponytail and after a while you experience scalp pain, this is a very clear sign that your ponytail is too tight. Act immediately to prevent damage to the hair roots.

Traction alopecia vs. alopecia areata

Preventing traction alopecia

Since the hair loss caused by traction alopecia is in most cases permanent, the only real solution is to prevent it. There is only one way to do this: Make sure your hair is under less tension. If you tie your hair into a ponytail or braids, leave some space so that the blood flow to your hair follicles remains intact. If you have dreadlocks or extensions put on, ask the person who put them on not to do this too tightly.

Traction alopecia vs. alopecia areata

Traction alopecia is often confused with alopecia areata, as this also involves patchy baldness. However, this is a completely different type of hair loss. Alopecia areata is a hair disease causing completely bald patches on the head, where hair can (usually) grow back. Read more about alopecia areata here.

Traction alopecia, on the other hand, is not a hair disease, but a form of hair loss caused by an external factor: too much tension. By removing this tension, you can prevent this type of hair loss yourself. In contrast to alopecia areata, this form of hair loss is irreversible. The chance of regaining the lost hair is therefore unfortunately small. If you are interested in hair growth stimulating products, take a look at this page.

What you can do right now as a temporary, cosmetic solution is to camouflage the bald spots:

Covering the bald / thinning areas
If you find that the affected areas are increasingly visible to yourself and those around you, you may choose to camouflage these areas. By using camouflage products in your hair colour, you can make these areas less visible or even completely invisible.

Hair fibres
Hair fibres are natural keratin-based fibres that attach themselves to your hair. This makes your hair look fuller and covers up any bald or thin patches. This form of camouflage would be particularly suitable in cases of mild traction alopecia, where there are still hairs to which the fibres can adhere.

Colour Spray
The Kmax Color Spray is a hair spray in the colour of your hair, which you apply to the affected areas. This spray will make the bald or thinning areas the same colour as your hair colour, making them less visible.

Scalp Shader
The name of the Scalp Shader from Kmax speaks for itself: with this product you colour your scalp. This product should also be used in the colour of your hair. Like a foundation, you apply it to the necessary areas using the sponge that comes with it. This covers the affected areas.