People suffering from traction alopecia often wonder how long they have to wait for the hair to recover and re-grow. Traction alopecia differs from other forms of hair loss because it is caused by physical action: the hair follicle is damaged by excess weight being placed on the hair. In other words, we’ve pulled our hair excessively, repeatedly, and damaged our scalps as a result.
This pulling most often occurs because of our hair styling process or routine. Hair extensions are notorious for causing traction alopecia because of the extra weight placed on the hair follicles, and because of the severe methods of attaching the extensions themselves. Women who wear hair extensions often are the most at risk of developing traction alopecia.
Hair loss through traction alopecia most commonly starts along the front hair line, where the hair roots are the weakest, or at the crown, where ponytails pull the hair most strongly. Alopecia is not limited to these areas, of course, and hair thinning all over the head is equally possible.
As with other forms of hair loss, a loss of self-confidence usually follows. Furthermore, hair loss restricts a person’s options when it comes to hair styling; which leads to even more stress and upset.
All is not lost, however. Hair lost through traction alopecia can be re-grown. Surgery should not be the first port of call. Your hair has to be given a chance to repair itself and grow back naturally. This means patience on your part, and spending time caring for your hair but the results are worth the effort.
Recovery times vary from person to person and can range from a few months to a few years. It all depends on the extent of the damage and how long the hair was abused. When it comes to recovery, patience is essential.
Tight styling has to stop. It puts excess pressure on the follicles, which are already damaged and don’t need any more problems laid on them. Don’t listen to the articles saying braids and extensions are okay if they aren’t fitted close to the scalp. It’s not true. The weight of the extensions alone puts excess pressure on your hair, which causes stress on the weakened hair shafts and aggravates the already-damaged follicles.
Just fitting hair extensions and braids can inflame the scalp. Inflammation means the scalp is stressed, which makes the follicles open to more damage. You need to let your scalp, your hair and your hair follicles repair themselves without putting more pressure and stresses on them.
To speed up the recovery process, here are some things you can try.
Stop using harsh chemicals on your hair, such as hair relaxing agents. Hair relaxants are used to straighten curly hair and reduce frizz. They work by breaking down disulphide bonds in the hair, and reacting with the broken bonds so they cannot reform. The disulphide bonds are found in the cysteine molecules in keratin; which give your hair strength. Each time you use a relaxant, you are permanently weakening the hair.
Hair relaxants are able to break these bonds because they use a base or reducing agent, such as sodium hydroxide (also known as lye). Sodium hydroxide is a harsh chemical that burns the skin and damages hair. Not all hair relaxers use lye, of course, but even the less harsh relaxing agents break down the chemical bonds in the hair and thus permanently weaken it.
In traction alopecia, the scalp contains damaged follicles and may be inflamed. Adding a relaxing agent on top of that damage will only burn or irritate the skin, especially where the scalp is exposed due to hair loss.
This prolongs the damage and thus extends recovery time, so avoid hair relaxants until your hair has grown out again.
A good diet and plenty of nutrition is essential to speedy recovery. Protein-rich foods, vitamins and minerals give your body the elements it needs to begin the healing process. Consider taking supplements to ensure you are receiving the right amount of essential nutrients each day to ensure your body can make the chemicals it needs to rebuild itself.
Always aim for supplements designed for hair growth. These are specially formulated and often contain Biotin, which increases the length of the growing phase of hair follicles, as well as iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium; all of which your body needs for strong, healthy hair.
Above all else, ensure you get plenty of protein. Not only is protein a fundamental requirement for growth and repair in the body, but it is also a major component of hair. Protein is essential for producing keratin, which makes hair strong, so try snacking on protein shakes, protein bars and cookies as a nice, easy way of increasing your daily protein intake.
Remember that traction alopecia recovery time is shortened when you stop stressing your follicles with a variety of different hair styles. Choose a style that does not involve tension on the hair follicles so you give your scalp time to recover. Stop using chemical relaxants on your hair, and avoid colouring it as well. Finally, make sure your body has all the vitamins, minerals and protein it needs to nourish and repair our hair from the inside.
Find out what else you could do by reading our 10-Step Prescription for Re-Growing Healthy Hair. See sidebar on how to get the full program in our new e-book at no charge. Rest assured that your information will not be shared with anyone.