Causes of Traction Alopecia
Any time continuous pull is exerted on hair, traction alopecia will be the result sooner or later. It can take some time to develop, so that you might not notice at first. But once you notice thinning patches, it is high time to start combating traction alopecia. Let’s examine what causes continuous pull on hair:
Do you wear a tight ponytail or chignon, or any other types of tight hairstyles? Clip-on or glued-on hair extensions, or just wearing barrettes and hair clips also contribute to traction alopecia. Other causes of traction alopecia can be bicycle, motorcycle or military helmets, as well as head coverings that are worn for cultural or religious reasons.
Therefore, traction alopecia is wide-spread among certain ethnic groups, such as Sikhs and Arabs for their turbans and keffiyehs, as well as African Americans who like to wear tight hairstyles, such as weaves, corn rows or braids. However, it does not even take a tight hairstyle to get in trouble. The sheer weight of long braids can cause stress hair loss because of damage to hair follicles. Hair extensions and ornaments worn by traditional Japanese women also contribute to traction alopecia.
Traction Alopecia Self-Test
Have you experienced localized hair loss or bald patches in a specific region of your scalp, and do any of the following conditions apply?
- Have you pulled your natural hair overly and severely into ponytails and chignons on a daily basis for the last few years?
- Do you wear tightly pulled braids?
- Have you been attaching drawstring, comb, and clip-on hair pieces to your hair repeatedly and attaching them tightly?
- Have you worn excessively tight and/or weighty weaves, especially for long periods of time?
- Do you wear a tight turban (i.e. a Dastar or Pagri) that may be restricting the blood flow around the hairline?
If the answer is yes to one or more of the above, you likely have traction alopecia. A doctor can con-firm your condition by performing a hair pull test, skin biopsy, potassium hydroxide (KOH) or VDRL test to rule out other conditions.