Traction Alopecia: Does Your Hairstyle Increase the Risk of Hair Loss?

Apr 15, 2024Hair Loss Conditions

Ever noticed your hair thinning around the hairline or at the temples? While hair loss can have various causes, if you frequently wear tight hairstyles, you might be experiencing traction alopecia.

In the world of hair care, the term ‘traction alopecia’ might not be as commonly discussed as hair thinning or pattern hair loss. But it’s a prevalent condition that warrants attention, especially for people fond of tight hairstyles.

If you haven’t considered the prolonged effects of your ponytail, braids, or bun on your hair health, this blog is for you. By understanding traction alopecia, you can make informed decisions about your hairstyles and hair care routine to keep your locks healthy and strong.

What Is Traction Alopecia and Why Should You Care?

Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss caused by prolonged or repeated pulling on the hair shaft. This constant tension can damage the hair follicles, the tiny pockets in your scalp responsible for hair growth.

Anyone who wears tight hairstyles regularly is at risk of developing this hair loss condition. It’s particularly common among people with textured hair types, like tight coils or curls.

Early intervention is crucial when it comes to traction alopecia. While the hair loss can sometimes be reversed with changes in hair care practices, long-term damage to the follicles can lead to permanent bald patches.

Can Certain Hairstyles Increase Risk of Traction Alopecia?

Particular hairstyles are more likely to contribute to traction alopecia. For instance, when worn frequently and tightly, styles that pull the hair tightly away from the scalp, like ponytails and braids, can cause significant stress on the hair follicles. Personal anecdotes reveal individuals noticing thinning and receding hairlines, often the initial signs of traction alopecia.

Moreover, the risks associated with these hairstyles are not only confined to adults. Children, with their sensitive scalp, are equally susceptible, especially if their locks is styled tightly.

Besides hairstyles, hair extensions and chemical treatments can also increase the risk of traction alopecia. The additional weight of extensions can put extra strain on the scalp, while harsh chemicals used for straightening or relaxing hair can weaken the hair shaft, making it more susceptible to breakage.

Traction Alopecia 101 Insights From Dublin's Hair Loss Specialists 3

Understanding the Causes of Traction Alopecia

Imagine your hair follicles as tiny factories constantly producing hair strands. When you wear tight hairstyles, the constant pulling puts stress on these follicles. Over time, this tension can:

Weaken the hair follicle’s anchoring to the scalp: This makes hair more prone to breakage and falling out.

Reduce blood flow to the follicle: Hair follicles need proper blood circulation to receive nutrients for healthy hair growth. Restricted blood flow due to tight hairstyles can hinder this process.

Inflammation: Constant pulling can irritate the scalp, leading to inflammation that further damages the hair follicles.

What Are the Signs of Traction Alopecia?

Identifying traction alopecia in its early stages is pivotal for reversing hair loss. Here are some common signs to watch out for:

Hair Loss

This is the most obvious symptom and often appears in a specific pattern depending on the hairstyle. You might notice receding hairline, thinning at the temples, or patches of hair loss along the braid lines.

Scalp Irritation

The constant pulling can irritate your scalp, causing redness, soreness, and even itching.


You might see an increase in broken hair strands, especially near the roots.

Bumps on the Scalp

Frequent tight hairstyles can lead to the development of small, pimple-like bumps on the scalp. These bumps may be tender to touch and indicate follicular stress or infection, secondary to the mechanical pulling and subsequent broken hairs trapped beneath the scalp’s surface.

Scalp Tenderness

Another indicator is a general feeling of scalp tenderness or pain when touching or moving the hair. This is due to the constant strain on the scalp’s dermal tissue. In severe cases, this tenderness can persist even after the hair has been loosened.

If you experience any of these symptoms, particularly after changing your hairstyle or starting to wear extensions, it’s important to address them promptly. Early treatment can prevent permanent damage and promote hair regrowth.

What Is Traction Alopecia?

The Different Stages: From Mild Thinning to Permanent Hair Loss

Traction alopecia progresses through different stages depending on the severity and duration of the pulling force on your hair follicles.

Stage 1: This is the mildest stage, characterised by slight hair thinning, particularly around the hairline or areas of consistent tension. With changes in hairstyling and proper care, hair regrowth is still very possible.

Stage 2: As the pulling continues, the hair loss becomes more noticeable, with bald patches appearing in areas of concentrated stress on the scalp. At this stage, early intervention is crucial to prevent permanent damage.

Stage 3: In the most advanced stage, the hair follicles become permanently scarred, leading to irreversible bald patches. While treatments might help stimulate some hair growth, complete recovery is unlikely.

Remember, by recognising the signs and taking action at the first sign of trouble, you can significantly increase your chances of reversing the hair loss and regaining a healthy head of hair.

Treating Traction Alopecia in Dublin: What Are the Options Available?

For those already experiencing signs of traction alopecia, there are several treatment avenues to explore.

In the initial stages, treatment plans commonly involve more conservative measures:

Loosening or Changing Hairstyles

The primary step involves eliminating the source of tension on the hair follicles. This may mean choosing hairstyles that do not exert a pulling force, thereby giving the hair follicles a chance to recover.

Topical Hair Loss Treatments

Hair loss specialists may recommend topical treatments. These hair loss solutions reduce scalp inflammation and stimulate hair growth through increased blood flow and follicle activity. It’s noteworthy that these treatments may take a while to show effects and require consistent application.


Specific hair growth supplements containing essential vitamins and minerals might be suggested to support hair health from within. Ingredients such as biotin, niacin, Vitamin E, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron are known for their beneficial roles in strengthening hair and promoting growth.

Scalp Massages and Lifestyle Changes

Incorporating scalp massages can significantly improve circulation, which nourishes hair follicles and promotes growth. Regular, gentle massaging, preferably with nutrient-rich oils (e.g., coconut, jojoba), can also reduce the tension and stress on the scalp. Additional lifestyle adjustments may be advised to foster a healthier hair growth environment.

Can You Take Medications For Hair Loss

In more advanced cases, treatment plans may include several specialised procedures alongside more conventional interventions:

Laser Therapy

Low-level laser hair growth therapy uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate follicles and is considered a non-invasive option. The therapy is thought to enhance blood circulation in the scalp and encourage metabolic activity within hair follicles, potentially delaying hair loss and promoting regrowth.

Steroid Injections

In instances where scalp inflammation is pronounced, steroid injections can effectively mitigate these symptoms. These injections work by reducing the immune response in the area, alleviating irritation, and preventing further hair follicle damage. While not a direct stimulant for hair growth, controlling inflammation can help create a more favourable environment for hair regrowth strategies to take effect.

PRP Therapy

In this procedure, a sample of your blood is processed to isolate the plasma enriched with platelets, which are then injected into the scalp. This platelet-rich plasma promotes healing and stimulates the hair follicles to encourage new growth. PRP therapy is acclaimed for its natural approach, leveraging the body’s healing mechanisms.

Hair Transplantation

For individuals with severe hair loss, hair transplantation may offer a more permanent solution. This surgical procedure involves transplanting hair follicles from denser areas of the scalp, or even other body parts, to areas with thinning or no hair.

Theradome Laser Hair Growth

Preventing Traction Alopecia: Simple Strategies for Healthy Hair

Unlike pattern hair loss and alopecia areata, traction alopecia is largely preventable! It simply requires a mindful approach to hair styling. Below are some practical tips to incorporate into your hair care routine and minimise your risk of developing this hair loss condition:

Loosen Up: Opt for looser hairstyles whenever possible. Avoid tight braids, ponytails, or buns, to protect your scalp a break from constant pulling.

Adopt Protective Styles: Embrace protective styles like loose braids with beads or bantu knots. These styles minimise tension on the scalp while maintaining a stylish look.

Massage Your Scalp: Regular scalp massages improve blood circulation and promote healthy hair growth.

Detangle Gently: When detangling your hair, do it gently. Use a wide-tooth comb to avoid breakage.

Use Hair-Friendly Products: As much as possible, only use hair care products specifically formulated for your hair type. Look for moisturising and nourishing products to keep your hair strong and resilient.

Hydrate: Drink plenty of water. Furthermore, use hydrating hair masks or deep conditioners to keep your hair from becoming dry and brittle, which makes it more susceptible to breakage.

Give Your Hair a Break: Don’t wear tight hairstyles for extended periods. Take breaks in between and allow your scalp to breathe.

Have a Balanced Diet: Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein to give your hair the nutrients it needs for growth and strength.

Manage Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to hair loss. Practice stress-management techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to keep your stress levels in check.

Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours each night. During sleep, your body repairs and restores itself, including hair growth.

Keep in mind, following these tips and being mindful of your hairstyling choices can significantly reduce your risk of traction alopecia and keep your hair healthy and strong.

In conclusion, traction alopecia is preventable, provided there is awareness and willingness to adopt healthier hair practices. Moreover, paying attention to the early warning signs and taking action can save your hair from permanent damage.

So, prioritise your hair health! Embrace styles that are as kind to your follicles as they are fashionable. Remember, your hair’s future depends on the choices you make today. Why not make choices that ensure its health and longevity?

Are you worried that your favourite hairstyles might be causing more harm than good to your hair? Don’t let a preventable condition like traction alopecia take a toll on your locks! Call us today on +353 (0)1 679 3618 to schedule a consultation with Dublin’s trusted trichologist!


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