Traction Alopecia In Ethnic Women: You Should Know

Traction alopecia in ethnic women is fast becoming one of the major causes of hair loss.

What is this condition?

Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss, caused primarily by a pulling force on the roots of the hair, explains Rasheed Patel from Fusion Labs. It is more common in women, and on average, one out of four women have the condition. “This is because the hair styles women choose are more prone to hair root trauma.” Eloise Steyn, senior stylist at Gary Rom Hairdressing, Woodlands, adds that traction alopecia is hair loss due to continuous traction or pulling of the hair and your scalp may be very sensitive to touch.

“This type of hair loss is within your control and you can prevent it by changing the way you style your be reversed. “The ‘advantage’ of this type of hair loss is that it is partially in control of the individual. Ethnic hair is more prone, however, it can happen to any hair type that has root trauma. Patel adds that any high-tension hairstyle, including braids, tight ponytails, dreadlocks, cornrows, weaves, hair piece attachments and headbands, can cause traction alopecia. “The constant strain induced by these techniques places tension on the hair roots and damages the dermal papilla (the engine of hair follicle). Over a prolonged period, the stress on the hair root leads to hair thinning and hair loss.”

In addition, says Patel, certain chemical treatments can also contribute to hair loss. Steyn adds that often thinning occurs around the temple area or behind the ears. “Constant tension pulls out the hairs’ root completely or causes the follicles to become inflamed. If you don’t take care of the problem it will reach the point where follicles no longer produce hair at all.”
Patel adds that while the frontal and temporal areas of the scalp are most at risk, resulting in hairline recession, any area of the scalp where the hair is forcefully pulled is prone to damage and degeneration.

What can be done about traction alopecia?

The good news, say the experts, is that this can be reversed. The ‘advantage’ of this type of hair loss is that it is partially in control of the individual. If you choose to refrain from these practices, reversal and recovery are highly feasible. This of course also depends on how early the condition is detected and addressed. Individuals experiencing traction alopecia can be proactive by implementing hair styles that place less tension on the roots of the hair. This immediately decreases the damage as the cause of the problem is now eliminated.”
He adds that “science has also advanced sufficiently to treat the condition medically. There are credible products and companies on the market that specialize in the control and treatment of traction alopecia,” says Patel. Light massaging of the affected area will increase the possibility of new growth by promoting blood flow to the scalp. The increased blood will provide the follicles with greater nutrient delivery and promote a healthier follicle and new hair growth. There is an exciting new facility, Nu Follica, that specifically caters for ethnic individuals experiencing hair loss. They offer a range of products as well as laser therapy to treat the condition. Henkel Beauty Care (the company behind Schwarzkopf Smooth ‘N Shine and Ladine Professional) recently opened its research and development laboratory in Midrand, Gauteng. With unique needs, such as high levels of hydration, protection and manageability, a range of styles and individualized hair care regimens, ethnic hair isn’t always that well understood. The R&D Laboratory aims to contribute to a better understanding of the hair care required. Click here to find out more.

Patel adds: “If traction alopecia has been identified too late for recovery, for those individuals, hair transplants are still a successful and viable option, despite it being a last resort. Reversing hair loss is not always easy, but it is doable.”

Click here to find out what hair salons in Cape Town are doing to survive the drought.