Causes & Treatment Options
As hair styles and fashions change with the times and public
sentiment, a few hair styling methods are causing baldness
and hair loss among today's younger and older generations.
Traction alopecia is hair loss that is caused by long term
hair pulling and breakage due to very tight hair braiding,
hair weaves and cornrows.
Harsh chemical relaxers can add to the hair follicle damage
and hair loss can be permanent if not treated immediately.
Traction Alopecia can also occur due to overprocessing of
the hair. Chemical treatment of hair with dyes, bleaches,
or straighteners disrupts the keratin structure in a manner
that reduces its tensile strength. (1) The hair follicles
can become fragile and heavy fall out can occur with brushing
or combing. Using extreme heat to fashion hair can also
permanently damage the hair follicle.
If the cause is not immediately alleviated, scarring can
occur as well as permanent hair loss, leaving the victim
with a less then desirable appearance they'll be forced
to deal with for their rest of their lives.
Traction alopecia mostly occurs in African-American women
and men who braid their hair too tightly. It is also common
in other ethnic groups known for traditional hair styles
that involve pulling the hair. Unfortunately, traction alopecia
occurs most often to pre-teenagers, teenagers, young adults
then it does in older men and women.
If detected early, traction alopecia is reversible if diagnosed
early. However, permanent hair loss can occur too slowly
for immediate detection. Hair loss is often occurs in the
front, but is also subject to the immediate adjacent area
to where the hair is being pulled and damaged.
The sad truth of the matter is that permanent traction
alopecia does not respond to medical treatment such as minoxidil
or finasteride since by it's nature, the hair loss is different
then genetic hair loss. The only way one can treat traction
alopecia is with hair transplants. Follicular unit hair
grafting have been identified as the only practical solution
to treating traction alopecia. Hair transplant clinics are
reportedly seeing a rise in the number of patients with
traction alopecia and say the results can be good to excellent
Dermatologist Valerie D. Callender, M.D., cautions that
traction alopecia hair transplant patients should be firmly
convinced to change their hair styling methods before undergoing
hair transplant surgery.
"If, after hair transplantation is performed,
patients with traction alopecia return to tight hair braiding
or those with scarring alopecia begin again to use chemical
relaxers or extreme heat for styling, they will jeopardize
survival of the transplanted hairs and cause additional
loss of non-transplanted hairs as well. Then, all the
time and money spent on surgery was in vain. On the other
hand, the surgical prognosis is generally good to excellent
for patients who are motivated to change their grooming
practices," Dr. Callender said.
1. . Traction Alopecia, Emedicine.com, Basil M Hantash,
MD, PhD, Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH, Updated February 2005
2. Alopecia Options for Black Women, Dermatology Times,
Cheryl Guttman, May 1, 2003
3. Traction Alopecia:
Causes & Treatment Options