Traction Alopecia|Hair Loss|Risky Hair Styles
Causes of Traction Alopecia in Women
Hair loss affects 21 million women in the U.S., according to the American Health Journal. Pattern baldness is leading condition that results in hair loss, as it is with men, but it appears different. Though it rarely leads to baldness and does not cause a receding hairline, hair thins over the entire head. Non-genetic factors also increase hair loss in women much more than men. Whether from stress or hormonal changes, temporary or permanent, 50 percent of women over the age of 40 will experience some form of hair loss. In particular, secondary factors greatly contribute to African-American hair loss in women. Traction alopecia has become another main cause of hair loss in women.

Types of Self-Imposed Hair Loss

Those of African descent have prevalent hairstyles that can cause non-genetic hair loss. Traction alopecia occurs from continuous, repeated pulling of hair. Noticeable thinning occurs along the entire scalp periphery with continuous use of hairstyles that exert a pulling force on the hair roots. Another condition, central cicatricial centrifugal alopecia (CCCA), occurs at the top and middle area of the head. CCCA results from traction alopecia plus the use of chemicals on the hair. The composition of each follicle is weakened with repeated treatments. This leads to a reduction in strength and more breakage. Heated appliances used to style hair also aggravate the condition.

Causes of Traction Alopecia in Women : Hair Styles that Cause Damage

  • Weaving: Additional hair is supplemented on the scalp by braiding, bonding, fusion or netting.
  • Extensions: Additional hair is added similar to weaving but only at the lower scalp.
  • Braiding and Cornrows: A hairstyle comprised of several small braids, with tight knots anchoring them to the scalp, it may include weaving in additional hair. Tight, woven columns called cornrows are a top culprit.
  • Barrettes: An accessory is used on the hair either to hold it in place or for decoration.
  • Ponytails: Hair is pulled back from the face and shoulders in one or mulitple bunches, sometimes a bun. A hair-tie, rubber band or other accessory secures hair.
Woman with Traction Alopecia
(image- Creative Commons) Hair loss around the margins of the scalp is a very common manifestation of Traction Alopecia

Treating Traction Alopecia and CCCA

For non-genetic hair loss, preventative measures are the best option. Minimizing scalp irritation, decreasing continued hair pulling and overall health all increase hair vitality. When traction alopecia and CCCA are no longer reversible, a few options can address hair restoration. Different methods of hair restoration may be used to address hair loss.

  1. Cosmetic concealers
  2. Hairpieces
  3. Oral and topical pharmaceuticals
  4. Surgical hair restoration

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