Traction Alopecia

Traction Alopecia diagnosis was first described in 1907 in Greenland by patients who had developed hair
loss along the hairline from wearing tight ponytails. It is a form of acquired hair loss resulting from
prolonged or repetitive tension on the scalp. You can develop this condition if you wear your hair in a
tight ponytail, bun, or braids, mainly if you use chemicals or heat on your hair. Repeated strain on the
hair follicles can pull out strands of hair and even damage the follicles. This causes redness, itching, and
even pus-producing ulcers or infections.
Due to the nature of braiding styles among African American communities, alopecia affects one-third of
women. This makes traction alopecia one of the leading types of hair loss among African American


Braids, Locs, ponytails, or any hairstyle that pulls on the hair follicle. Some people will
experience hair loss right after the hairstyle is taken down or if tight hairstyles are worn for an
extended time. Hairpieces and extensions clued, glued, or tightly tied to the base of the hair, may cause tension at the hair roots.
Wigs have bands and combs that contribute to stressing the follicle leaving the hair vulnerable
to traction alopecia. If the band on the wig is too tight, it can cause blood flow restriction and
may contribute to alopecia. Lace wigs can cause friction along the hair line resulting in hair loss.
Headwear, such as sports helmets, particularly compression helmets worn while playing
football, snowboarding, skiing, horseback riding, etc., may cause the hair to thin where the
headwear makes contact with the hair. Hair accessories, including hair slides or grips, worn the same way every day. Very long hair can be heavy, pulling on the hair follicles. Very long or tightly tied beards can also
result in traction alopecia.

Frequent use of relaxers can also contribute to traction alopecia. The chemicals in relaxers can
weaken the hair fibers and make them prone to breakage, thus causing hair loss in the long run.
Wearing unnecessarily tight ponytails, pigtails, or braids for an extended period.
Trichotillomania is a mental disorder characterized by incessant (and often unconscious) hair
twisting, plucking, or pulling.


1. Change your hairstyle every couple of weeks—for example, alternate between braids and
wearing your hair down. It is essential to give your scalp and hair a break from the tension and
2. If you wear a wig, choose one with satin, nylon, or cotton wig caps. It won’t pull as hard on your
3. Do not use hair relaxers if you plan to wear extensions. Cut your hair to a healthy length and
wear it naturally.
4. Do not use rubber bands and elastic ponytail holders. They can pull out your hair.

5. When you braid your hair or put it in dreadlocks, get thick braids or dreadlocks rather than thin
ones, as more delicate braids pull more tightly.
6. Don’t sleep in rollers. Wrap your hair instead.
7. Place weaves and braids in natural hair instead of chemically processed hair. The chemicals can
damage your hair, making it more likely to break.
8. Make sure braids, cornrows, or weaves are not tight. If it hurts while your hair is styled, ask the
stylist to stop and redo it. Pain equals damage.
9. Use low heat settings on flat irons and blow dryers.
10. Use hair extensions only for a short amount of time. Take out hair extensions right away if they
are causing pain or irritation.
11. Wear a satin bonnet or use a satin pillowcase at bedtime.
12. See a licensed Master Cosmetologist at least once a month for scalp hair treatment and check split
ends. Maintenance from a professional is highly recommended.


If you don’t see new hair growth after a few months of taking preventive measures, it’s time to seek
medical attention. Your follicles are probably damaged, and if there is any scarring, your hair may not
grow back. Once you have experienced damage, you must ask swiftly. A dermatologist specializing in the scalp and hair can suggest topical and other solutions geared toward lowering inflammation and healing the scalp to foster new and existing hair growth.

Your doctor may prescribe you the following treatments:
Antibiotics to prevent infection
Topical or intralesional steroids
Topical antifungal shampoos
Biotin supplements
Minoxidil (I do not recommend. Comes with many side effects)
LLT (Low-Level Light Therapy)
Hair replacement surgery

Home Remedies for Traction Alopecia

Adding Protein to Your Diet
Your body requires protein for hair growth. Some healthy dietary protein sources include eggs, fish,
nuts, beans, lean meats, and seeds. Only some people need the same amount of protein as its
requirement varies based on muscle mass and physical activity.

Increase Iron Intake
Iron is another vital nutrient that your body needs to grow new hair. If you face hair loss, your diet
should comprise foods like lentils, tofu, seeds, pumpkin, spinach, and white beans. Many companies
enrich their foods with vitamins and iron, such as in breakfast cereals, to prevent iron deficiency.

Massage Your Scalp
Massaging your scalp with oil can help stimulate blood flow to your follicles, encouraging hair growth.
You can use your fingertips to massage the scalp in a circular motion or buy a massage device to do the
Pumpkin Seed Oil
Experts suggest that pumpkin seed oil has proven results in hair growth. A study conducted on a group
of men shows that those who took 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil daily noticed a 40% increase in hair
count in six months.
Banana Hair Mask
Bananas are rich in potassium, antioxidants, natural oils, and vitamins, which make them an ideal hair
fall remedy. Take a ripe banana and one tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil, and honey each. Leave on
your hair for five minutes and rinse with lukewarm water.
Take Away
Traction alopecia causes swelling on your scalp, which can be painful. The swelling may be accompanied
by redness and irritation. Topical anti-inflammatory creams and solutions can help reduce pain and
swelling. Consult your doctor immediately to get the proper medication for yourself. Severe cases of
traction alopecia may require a hair transplant.

Written By Lyric Elise
Author of More Than Hair Deep, available on