What is traction alopecia?
Hair is lost gradually due to the force induced applied to it in the form of tight braids and ponytails. The hair is under constant strain and tension that pulls at it forcefully. On physical examination, frontal fibrosing alopecia is noticed with a hairline that has a pseudo-fringe sign. The hairstyles pull the hair hard towards the vertex of the scalp resulting in scarring. During advanced stages of traction alopecia, the hair follicles are permanently scarred and do not grow again.
Causes of traction alopecia
- Hair weaves are considered as one of the most predominant causes of traction alopecia. It may be worn for cosmetic purposes or to disguise hair loss. It involves braiding below the hairline and around the head.
- Single-tension braids can cause traction alopecia where hair is lost along the sides of the head and around the temples
- Wearing tight and closed headgears such as helmets can also lead to traction alopecia.
Symptoms of traction alopecia
The symptoms of traction alopecia are fairly different from other forms of alopecia:
- A few bumps are seen on the scalp that seems similar to pimples
- Missing and broken hairs are seen as the condition progresses
- Often the hairs along the front side are affected
- The scalp is red
- A soreness and stinging sensation in the scalp is noticed
- Pus-filled blisters appear on the scalp
- Folliculitis or inflammation of the hair follicles is seen
Prevention is the best treatment for traction alopecia. To prevent the condition, avoid the use of relaxers, sleep-rollers, hair dryers, wigs and chemical processing of the hair.
Treatment for traction alopecia
Change styling methods: The moment you notice significant hair loss it is best to immediately stop tightly braiding or styling your hair. The beginning is usually in the scalp where the hair is tugged the tightest. If the hair follicles are damaged permanently, they cannot regenerate. You will see noticeable hair loss when the follicles are harmed.
Medications: There are several over-the-counter medications that are available to treat the condition. Telogen hairs are still present in areas of the scalp that exhibit early-stage traction alopecia. Antibiotics and intralesional corticosteroids can help with hair growth. The end stage of traction alopecia is marked by the absence of vellus hairs in the hair follicles.
Surgical intervention: Flap surgery or surgical hair transplantation can provide some relief for individuals who have permanent scarring of the hair follicle. A healthy scalp is attached to the damaged area for hair to grow. Hair follicles from the healthy part of the head are removed and placed into the scanty area to fill them up.