Traction alopecia occurs because of tension placed on hair follicles and not hormones, like male or female pattern balding. When people repeatedly apply tension to hair, the follicles get weaker and weaker over time, and eventually stop producing hair. The hairline and crown of the head are the places most commonly affected by traction alopecia; however, the effects of constantly pulling the hair can result in a general thinning of hair all over the head. There are several things people suffering from traction alopecia can do to stop and even reverse this type of hair loss.
Treating traction alopecia takes time for several reasons. First, the scalp has to be allowed time to heal itself. Second, hair follicles need to regenerate healthy cells that will produce hair once again. Third, people’s hair grows at different rates. Rates of hair growth can vary from a 1/8th of an inch to a whole inch per month. Hair growth typically depends on the biology of the individual. However, constant pulling of hair, which damages the hair follicle, will cause the hair growth rate to steadily decrease.
As a first step in treating traction alopecia, sufferers should try to refrain from activities that place tension on their hair follicles. This tension usually comes from tight braids, other hairstyles or wearing helmets and hats. If affected people give their damaged hair follicles a chance to repair themselves, their hair will gradually grow back stronger and healthier. Some external symptoms associated with traction alopecia include inflammation, which can become severe and cause great discomfort. In these cases, people may need to visit a doctor for a prescription. Sometimes dandruff may appear on the scalp. People with traction alopecia can still use a suitable over the counter anti-dandruff shampoo treatment regularly. While dealing with external symptoms can provide relief in the short term, they are not the only thing that helps grow new, healthy hair.
To ensure long term, sustained hair growth, traction alopecia suffers need to consume an adequate supply of hair beneficial nutrients. Protein often helps stop traction alopecia. Hair is made of protein, so people should increase their amount of protein consumption. Only certain proteins, with a high biological value (BV), add benefit to hair growth. All proteins have a biological value. A protein’s biological value comes from the fact that certain proteins break down more easily by the body, and therefore, are more easily absorbed and better utilized by the body. Whey protein has the highest biological value of the proteins. Because of this, it often is a component in protein supplements. Cow’s milk contains whey and it actually makes up approximately 20% of the protein found in milk. Milk derivatives, including ricotta and cottage cheese, also contain high sources of whey protein. Other foods with a high biological protein value are eggs, fish, chicken, turkey, casein, beans, lean red meat and soy products. Besides protein, hair needs other nutrients.
Some nutrients provide additional benefits for healthy hair growth. They include iodine, selenium, iron, tryptophan, B vitamins copper and folate. Foods rich in iodine include dried seaweed and baked potato with the peel. Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and grains like wheat germ, brown rice, barley and oats contain selenium. Excellent sources of iron include dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, curly kale and watercress.
The B vitamins, for healthier hair, include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate (also called folic acid or folacin), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. The best sources for B vitamins consist of dark leafy vegetables, wheat germ, lentils, almonds, pecans, milk and milk products, spinach, and turnip greens. Liver and egg yolk are the best sources of Biotin. Biotin helps keep the hair in its anagen or growth phase for longer. The longer the hair stays in its anagen phase, the longer it will grow before naturally shedding.
Alternatively consider taking a good quality hair supplement that contains the right balance of vitamins and minerals required to grow strong healthy hair. We recommend or Hair Formula 37.
Another method for stopping or reversing hair alopecia is circulation to the scalp. Sufferers should increase scalp circulation so that blood, rich in these important nutrients, is able to reach the hair follicles. Exercise, which boosts overall circulation, will increase circulation to the scalp. Sufferers also benefit from neck exercises and scalp massages. Other artificial ways to boost scalp circulation include the use of caffeine-based products like shampoos and hair tonics.
Incorporating a variety of the foods listed above into the diet will provide the vitamins, amino acids and minerals sufferers need to heal their scalp and regenerate their hair follicles. Keep in mind that reversing the affects of traction alopecia takes time. Be patient. It will take at least three months before sufferers will see the benefit a new diet has on treating traction alopecia.