The most common question asked by people diagnosed with traction alopecia is, “is it reversible?” The answer is, as always in such cases, “it depends”. The good news: When caught early enough, traction alopecia is indeed treatable and reversible.
Traction alopecia is caused by wearing your hair in styles that exert too much pull on the hair shafts and eventually damaging the hair follicles. Unlike many other forms of hair loss, it is not a direct result of emotional stress, poor dietary habits, hormonal imbalances or genetics (although those can affect the strength and durability of the hair overall).
Since pull on the hair is the only underlying cause of this condition, it is much easier to treat than other forms of hair loss. If you have established that you are suffering from traction alopecia and not from another form of hair loss, the first thing to do is to stop wearing your hair in the style that is so insulting to your hair, so that you can prevent further damage and start growing healthy hair again.
No hair re-growth treatment will work as long as the cause of the condition has not been removed, in this case – the hairstyle. It’s important to be diagnosed by a professional before deciding on a course of treatment. If you are already suffering from overall hair loss, traction alopecia will aggravate it. So, it is wise to stop wearing hairstyles, such as weaves and clip-on hair extensions – often used to disguise other forms of hair loss.
Once the cause has been removed, it’s then time to treat the symptoms by using topical treatments in the affected areas to help the follicles recover. For the best chance of reversing the effects of traction alopecia, you need to start treatment as soon as hair loss is noticed.
If scarring hasn’t occurred, you will be able to reverse the results of the condition, allowing new hair to grow. There are
many types of treatments that can be used, both herbal hair loss treatments and chemical-based treatments. They come in the form of tonics, sprays, lotions, shampoos and oils. Herbal treatments include Bhringaraj oil which has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to treat baldness.
Many hair loss treatments aimed at treating male and female pattern baldness can also be used to treat traction alopecia in both men and women. Preferred treatments are those that target the follicles themselves and work to revive and stimulate them to produce new hairs.
If minor skin irritation appears as a result of the condition itself, or the treatment, doctor-prescribed steroids should be able to clear it. Of course, discontinue any treatment that causes severe irritation and always read the instructions and contraindications in full before commencing treatment.
Keep in mind that, although reversible, traction alopecia takes time to heal. A period of 4–6 months is normal before follicles fully recover and the hair begins to look natural again. In some cases, the hair can recover without treatment, although traction alopecia treatments have been shown to speed up recovery times and the overall condition of the hair.
In severe cases, where traction alopecia was not caught and treated quickly enough, it may be harder, or even impossible, to achieve full recovery using standard hair loss treatments. In such cases, hair transplants may be the only answer.