Increased Hair Loss: Could It Be Traction Alopecia?

Are you los­ing more hair each time you comb or wash your hair than you have in Woman with traction alopecia hair lossthe past?  Are you notic­ing more hair on your pil­low in the morn­ing when you awaken from your night’s sleep?  Are there thin areas or patches in your hair that haven’t been there before?  Do you wear hair styles that pull tightly on the hair shaft? If the answer to any of these ques­tions is yes, then your hair loss issues could have their root in a hair loss con­di­tion called “trac­tion alopecia”.

What is Trac­tion Alopecia?

The term “alope­cia” is sim­ply defined as bald­ness or hair loss.  The term “trac­tion” in this case refers to stress placed on the hair shaft and the scalp — so, the def­i­n­i­tion of trac­tion alope­cia is quite sim­ply stress hair loss. This occurs when the hair shaft is pulled tightly and secured tightly for extended peri­ods of time.  There are a num­ber of hair styling tech­niques that pro­duce con­di­tions that can lead to trac­tion alopecia.

More about the Causes

There are many types of hair loss and, for the most part, we really don’t have much con­trol over the causes of them.  Trac­tion alope­cia is not one of the types of hair loss over which we have no con­trol.  Quite the con­trary, the pri­mary cause of this type of thin­ning hair con­di­tion is caused by how the hair is styled or cared for.  If you are a per­son of color, whether male or female, it is likely that a cul­tural tra­di­tion that involves styles that require the hair be pulled back tightly in corn row braids, or pig­tails or tightly knit buns for exam­ple, is the pri­mary cause of your thin­ning hair issues.

How Does Trac­tion Cause Hair Loss?

The hair shaft is made up of com­pletely dead cells and is rooted into the hair Cornrows can lead to traction alopecia or thinning hairfol­li­cle which con­tains a bulb at the base.  The bulb at the base of the hair shaft con­tains derma papilla cells that are respon­si­ble for grow­ing the hair shaft.  The hair strand is securely held by the fol­li­cle dur­ing the first phase of the grow­ing cycle, called the Ana­gen phase.  As the growth cycle of the hair shaft pro­gresses through the Cata­gen and Tel­o­gen cycles, the hair fol­li­cle begins to lessen the grip it has on the hair strand.  The total growth cycle can last sev­eral years before the hair shaft is finally released from the hair fol­li­cle and is shed.  Dur­ing this cycle of hair growth, if you place large amounts of stress or trac­tion on the hair strand, it will be shed prematurely.

The Nor­mal Growth Cycle of Hair

To under­stand the impor­tance of pre­vent­ing pre­ma­ture shed­ding of hair, it is vital to under­stand, first, how the nor­mal cycle of hair pro­gresses.  The hair fol­li­cle is loaded with those derma papilla cells which are respon­si­ble for grow­ing the hair shaft.  The derma papilla cells are pre-programmed to begin to grow the hair strand and move through the entire cycle over a spe­cific period of time.  The cells deter­mine what the hair strand will look like in terms of color, tex­ture and whether it is straight or curly.  It deter­mines if the hair is to be like that of “peach fuzz” or the thicker strand that grows on var­i­ous parts of our bod­ies.  The cells are also pro­grammed to begin and com­plete this cycle a spe­cific num­ber of times through­out our life­time.  If we do some­thing that causes the hair shaft to be shed before it is pro­grammed to do so, then we has­ten the end of hair pro­duc­tion by the follicle.

Trac­tion alope­cia is a type of hair loss that we can con­trol.  By mod­i­fy­ing the hair styling tech­niques and con­trol­ling the dyes and bleaches that we use to color, straighten and curl, you can con­trol the thin­ning hair issues caused by stress hair loss.

Sign up to our mail­ing list to down­load our free 10 Step pre­scrip­tion on what to do when your hair falls out. It con­tains tips on what prod­ucts and tech­niques to use to stim­u­late hair growth.

Comments are closed.