What is Traction Alopecia? The dictionary definition for the term “alopecia” refers to hair loss or baldness. The “traction” portion refers to stress hair loss. So, when you hear the term “traction alopecia”, it will be referring to hair loss or thinning caused by a stressed scalp.
Causes of Traction Alopecia
The causes of this type of stress hair loss are just what they sound like – habits or things that we do to our hair that causes stressed scalp conditions. The major cause of this condition relates to hair styles that pull the hair shafts tightly and cause scalp stress. Hair styles that generally create scalp stress are tightly woven cornrows, tightly plaited braids and pigtails and any hair style that requires that the hair strands be folded tightly and either woven or fastened tightly. These hair styles are prevalent in both males and females and are primarily found in youth, teen and young adults. Hair weaving in men to cover areas which have experienced thinning or lost hair is becoming more prevalent and is also becoming an increasing cause of traction alopecia.
Another Cause of Traction Alopecia
Another cause of traction alopecia is also an external one. Any trauma to the scalp can cause stress hair loss. Any traction on the hair strand loosens the grip of the follicle on the hair strand and it falls out sooner than the biological cellular programming of the hair follicle intentions. The stressed scalp permits the hair strand to be loosened and shed before its time in the area of the scalp stress; ie in the area of the traumatic injury or adjacent to the cornrow area or the areas experiencing the greatest tug and pull when you braid or pigtail your hair.
Why is the Early Shedding an Issue?
Each of the follicles located in your skin produces hair strands all over your body. These hair follicles are full of hundreds of pre-programmed cells that produce the hair shaft. The programming in these cells initiates and promotes the life cycle of the hair shaft and governs how many times that life cycle will be repeated. This life cycle can span a period of only a few months or several years. The important thing to note here is the number of times the life cycle is to be repeated. For example, if your cellular programming says that the life cycle will only be repeated 50 times, then, if you shed the hair strand before its life cycle is over and do so often, you will exhaust the number of life cycles those hair follicles can produce hair strands. The result will be permanent stress hair loss. Stress hair loss means bald or thinning areas in beautiful full head of hair!
Emotional and Psychological Effects of Stress Hair Loss
While the causes of traction alopecia can be controlled, the emotional and psychological effects on the internal self image and self confidence of the person experiencing the stress hair loss sometimes can not be controlled. Thinning hair can affect your appearance and that can affect your business relationships as well as romantic ones. You will look into your mirror and you will not see the same person that you have seen in the past and you will likely long to return to that more youthful and attractive appearance.
The key to reversing or controlling the damage of traction alopecia is to identify and control the causes of the stress hair loss as early as possible. It is vitally important to identify the causes of traction alopecia and correct the causes of stress hair loss immediately before the thinning or loss becomes permanent and irreversible.