Traction Alopecia and how to avoid it

Evelyn Brown

Anyone who frequently wears a tightly pulled hairstyle too often can develop hair loss. The medical term for this is called traction alopecia. Avoid frequently wearing hairstyles that pull on your hair. In time, the continuous pulling can damage your hair follicles. If you damage your hair follicles, your hair cannot grow back, so you develop permanent hair loss.

Hairstyles that constantly pull on your hair:

  • Buns, ponytails, and up-dos that are tightly pulled
  • Cornrows
  • Dreadlocks
  • Hair extensions or weaves
  • Tightly braided hair
  • Wearing rollers to bed most of the time can also lead to hair loss

You can reduce your risk of hair loss by following these dermatologists’ tips to minimize the damage: 

1. Loosen up the hairstyle. When you wear your hair pulled back, loosen the hairstyle a bit, especially around your hairline. To reduce the constant pulling, you can:

  • Loosen braids, especially around your hairline
  • Wear a braided style for no longer than two to three months
  • Opt for thicker braids and dreadlocks

2. Change it up. Changing hairstyles can also help reduce the pull. Changing styles gives your hair a chance to recover. For example, after wearing cornrows, you may want to wear loose braids or go natural for a few months.

Follow these precautions when wearing a weave. To prevent them from causing hair loss, dermatologists recommend that you:

  • Wear them for short periods of time, as the pulling can increase your risk of developing traction alopecia
  • Remove them immediately, if they cause pain or irritate your scalp

If you see any of the below, it’s time to stop pulling on your hair:

  • Broken hairs around your forehead
  • A receding hairline
  • Patches of hair loss where your hair is pulled tightly

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