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What You Should Know About Traction Alopecia

Updated on April 16, 2013

What Is Traction Alopecia

Traction Alopecia is a hair loss condition mostly caused by styles which consistently pull the hair.

Causes of Traction Alopecia

Traction Alopecia is mainly caused by styling practices where the hair is constantly pulled. This include:


(1) Weaves

Weaves are artificial hair pieces which are sewn into tight braids (similar to corn rows) against the head

(2) Braids

Tightly braided hair (real or attachments) can also cause strain on the hair shafts and the hair follicles.

(3) Extensions

Extensions are also hair pieces that are attached onto one's natural hair through clips or metal pieces, glue or keratin

(4) Dread locks

Dread locks are also attachments in the form of matted hair. The weight of these pieces also adds tension to the follicles.

(5) Corn rows

Corn rows are similar to french braids. They are woven against the scalp.

Traction Alopecia can also be caused by wearing hair in tight pony tails as well

Ethnicity and Traction Alopecia


Traction Alopecia is most often associated with African American women. This is due to common hair styling practices such as: weaves, braids, cornrows and extensions.

However, anyone who styles their hair in ways that pull the hair shafts and damage the follicles can also experience traction alopecia. So this includes those of ANY ethnic background. For example, Britney Spears is believed to have also suffered from this condition. As a high profile entertainer, she (like many celebrities) faces pressure to have long, lustrous looking hair. And over use of extensions can eventually take its toll.

Warning Signs

Besides taking responsible care of your hair extensions (or not wearing them at all), Traction Alopecia can be avoided by understanding some of the early symptoms are:


(1) bumps on the scalp
(2) pain from the constant pulling of the hair
(3) spontaneous breakage of the extensions ( they fall off as the natural hair is being pulled)

Removing the extensions and changing your hair styling habits should be done as soon as these warning signs are apparent. If these changes are made early, it is possible for the hair to grow back.

By ignoring these symptoms, traction alopecia can progress to more advanced stages where hair loss is permanent

Ethnicity and Traction Alopecia

Traction Alopecia is most often associated with African American women. This is due to common hair styling practices such as: weaves, braids, cornrows and extensions.


However, anyone who styles their hair in ways that pull the hair shafts and damage the follicles can also experience traction alopecia. So this includes those of ANY ethnic background. For example, Britney Spears is believed to have also suffered from this condition. As a high profile entertainer, she (like many celebrities) faces pressure to have long, lustrous looking hair. And over use of extensions can eventually take its toll.

Precautions With Extensions

Attaching hair pieces to your original hair can cause stress and even tear the hair follicles. It is easy to only think about the way they look. Likewise, it is also easy to neglect proper care and precautions, as they are not the same as your own hair

How Long Should Hair Extensions Be In Place?

Extensions can be worn for about 3-4 weeks. It may seem like more work, but they should then be removed to give a break to one's natural hair.

Treatment For Traction Alopecia

When Traction Alopecia is in its earliest stages, it is possible to reverse the signs of hair loss. This would involve changing one's hair styling practices. It will also be important to follow the guidance of a dermatologist.

Advanced Stage Traction Alopecia

More advanced stages of Traction Alopecia are difficult to reverse. This is is due to damage that has been inflicted on the hair follicles. At this point, a hair transplant procedure may be necessary.

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