Dealing with Traction Alopecia

Posted on Sunday, October 19th, 2008 at 4:47 PM

By Azara

Naomi Campbell's Hairline

Naomi Campbell's Hairline

By Azara – Bella Naija Beauty & Wellness Editor

As a little girl I remember getting my hair done by this lady whose hair line was basically non existent. I remember being repulsed by it and thinking that it was very stupid for her to braid the rest of her hair, as if people would be looking at her nicely styled braids instead of her nonexistent hairline. However, I never thought that in a million years I would be weaving my hair to cover my disappearing hairline.

As I slowly take off my hair weave, being careful not to look in the mirror to see what my hair has become, I think to myself; how did I get to this point? How did my beautiful hair become a thing of shape, immediately thoughts of miniature braids, self-relaxed hair and sticky situations with hair glue come to mind. I finally look in the mirror and realize that no one is to be blamed of my situation but myself.

A year ago, I noticed that my front edges had not grown in a while, after using several products and visiting several hair stylists; I finally decided to take the big step and visit a dermatologist and to my dismay I got the

news that I was dreading. The dermatologist told me that I had a type of hair loss known as Traction alopecia. At the sound of the word “Alopecia”, I was immediately overcome with the images of bald women, and cried, the dermatologist tried his best to comfort me by telling me that this hair disease is very common African American woman but I was overcome with embarrassment that I left without asking him any question.

As soon as I got home, I decided to do more research on this hair problem, as well as take steps towards restoring my hair again. I decided that if I got myself into this situation, I would find a way to get myself out, and thanks to Traction Alopecia, I found my new passion: Hair.

So what exactly is Traction Alopecia? it is a hair loss condition caused by damage to the hair follicle and dermal papilla due to constant pulling and tension over a long period of time. The pulling and tension is usually created by tight braids, pony tails and over processed hair, and with time the tension caused by these hairstyles result in a lack of blood circulation in those areas that cause irreversible and permanent hair loss.

While conducting my research on this condition, I was surprised to find out how many women this affects, I remembered all the ladies in the hair salon that seem to only have hair in the middle, I remembered a friend of mine that never pulled her hair back but always divided in the middle, and most importantly I thought of myself. I thought of the times when I had braids so tight but I never complained because I believed that “beauty was pain”, I remembered actually wanting and expecting my braids and weaves to hurt because then that meant that my hair was still “new”. I remembered when I would let the relaxer stay longer than it should, just so that my hair would finally be silky, and most importantly, I remembered the time when I did my “Agbani Darego ponytail” and drowned my hair with gel. I thought of all the years of abuse and stress I put my hair through, and how I am now suffering because of it. If only I had known.

Although there are temporary solutions like Lace Wigs and Lace frontals that work to hide the problem, Traction Alopecia as of the current moment has no solution other than hair transplants for those with severe situations. However, it is important for women to be educated in the health of their hair in order to avoid developing this situation later on in life. There are several ways to avoid developing Traction Alopecia and they include: minimizing the use of Strong relaxers, loosening up tight braids and weaves, and avoiding tight ponytails. It is also important to remember that your hair needs a break period from hair activities; after you take out a weave or braid, wait a week before you relax your hair and an additional week before you braid it again. It is also important to condition one’s hair at least once a month, to ensure that it is stronger and healthier.

Although Traction Alopecia affects a lot of women, there are still women with great genetics whom are rarely affected with problems like this, but for those of us that are, it is very important for us to be careful about the things we do to our hair. Very often women try to copy each other’s hairstyles and pay little attention to the stress that such hairstyles create for their scalp. We must learn to understand our hair and scalp sensitivity before we venture out to do something that we are not used to.

In my quest to treat my hair, I decided to cut it off and start afresh and I have used nothing but natural products to moisturize and condition my hair. It’s been several months since my hair cut, and I’ve noticed some changes. Even though things are not back to normal (the dermatologist said it would take time), I am happy with the fact that now, I am more aware of my hair. I still wear my weaves and braids, but this time I am more conscious of my hair health instead of my hairstyles, this time I am no longer shy about telling the hairstylist how loose or big I want my braids to be. But the most important thing I learned from my premature hair loss, was my passion to inform other women about hair.

If you think that you have or might be suffering with traction alopecia, be sure to see a hair stylist and a dermatologist. For more information on keeping and maintaining a healthy hair and hairstyle, be sure to check out my blog: http://hairbyazara.blogspot.com

Here are the Summary Points of Traction Alopecia from the informational website Traction-Alopecia.com:

· In the USA, traction alopecia is most common in African-American women due to their hair styles. Can also occur in men who use hair weaving to conceal bald areas.

· More common in children and young adults and less common in older adults.

· Traction Alopecia is reversible if detected early but can lead to permanent hair loss. Early detection is the key.

· For women, no medical treatment exists and hair grafts are their only option.

· Traction alopecia is more common in the frontal and temporal regions, but also depends on the hair style. With cornrows, hair loss is adjacent to the rows.

· Women and men who suspect they might be vulnerable to traction alopecia should change their hair style and/or reduce usage of hair chemicals, and consult their dermatologists.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , ,

  • Custom Search
  • 15 Comments on “Dealing with Traction Alopecia”

    Comments
    • Nkechi October 20, 2008 at 3:27 AM

      woooow. that was such a good article. i’m thinking of going natural for real.

    • Nausa October 20, 2008 at 10:20 AM

      so what is the solution, is to cut or what?

    • regitalk October 21, 2008 at 2:32 AM

      good article!
      I’ve really long hair am grateful for, but to be honest as the article says I’ve always been really careful about what I use and do to my hair (my body) I only relax when its really due, use attachments when I need to keep my hair for long etc
      same principles for my nails too, esp cos my manicurist advised never to fix cos i have really soft nails so i’ve stayed off that
      with my skin n nails the most simple lotion and clenser…no superman creams to get reed off my pimples n all…I wont want to sound full of myself or anything but its what i tell my friends works for my mum, its working for me
      Good luck

    • Ony October 29, 2008 at 3:34 PM

      I’m not surprised. Actually, what surprises me is when many women don’t realize that it’s the obsession with artificial hair that kills the natural one.There’s no woman I’ve seen with full, naturally long hair that makes a habit of over-processing it.
      I think the way to help this is to advise women that natural hair isn’t a curse, or something that should be hidden under wigs. I was always tripped by women that would loosen one hair and then IMMEDIATELY fix another, and then act shocked that their hair was chopping. I could go ages without fixing my hair, even though it isn’t long. If you style it every week, and maybe do a little tonging for variety, it would go a long way. Half the hair styles we black women put on our heads aren’t all that nice anyway.

    • Amina November 1, 2008 at 7:29 AM

      Great article! My heart was aching while reading this because i know what’s it like to see hair receding and feeling powerless. I stopped getting braids and went natural for that reason. I also think that hair stylists are less informed about holistic hair care but more interested in making money instead of the client’s health.
      Like you i also grew up with the adage: beauty is pain and some hairstylists encourage tight braids so it can stay longer or leaving the relaxer longer than the recommended time..
      anyways, i am glad to hear that your hairline is recovering..
      would you mind telling us what products you are currently using?
      thank you

    • sweetie January 13, 2009 at 3:13 PM

      Wonderful article!, like Amina said, stylists are just concerned about making money instead of informing the clients about how to take care of one´s hair, i hope more women would come to read this artcle and be enlightened. thanks azara for posting this article.

    • Chika January 17, 2009 at 8:51 AM

      Great article! I never faced a damage to my hairline, however, my hair was thinning rapidly as of two years ago (and I’m in my twenties). So I did the BC and went natural; just to avoid having crappy hair. My hair is back, thick, and absolutely lovely now.
      Natural may not be for everybody, but be sure that frying your hair constantly ain’t all that!

    • Ebony May 4, 2009 at 6:34 AM

      ok, so then traction alopecia in your case was not irreversible? the big question is besides caring better for your hair, chopping it & going natural, what is it exactly…the main thing that is causing your hair grow back?

    • Bebe June 19, 2009 at 12:47 AM

      OMG, this article is really touching. It’s sad because I know a lot of women who have this problem and instead of facing up to it, they live in DENIAL and keep doing the same things that caused the hair and scalp damage in the first place: over-relaxing, tight cornrows, constant braids, and weaves with toxic glues! :(
      It’s no wonder most of us are addicted to those damaging hairstyles. It’s a vicious circle: the hairstyles we choose damage our natural hair, and so we need to hide it away, meaning more damage! Meanwhile we never learn to truly understand our natural hair and care for it like we should.

      Part of the problem is lack of information about what’s good for natural black hair. If you think about it, the only advancement in black hair styling in the last few years is geared towards HIDING our hair under weaves and lace-fronts. Or using ever more realistic materials to make hair pieces. None of the big companies spend their time researching about products that are beneficial to healthy hair and scalp. Instead they are spending money telling us to straighten (relax), or hide under fake hair.

      It is terribly sad :(

      I went natural two years ago because relaxers were killing my hair and tight braids were tearing my roots out. I have since armed myself with information on how to look after my hair properly. And I’m glad it’s working. More women need a total radical shake up of what they are doing to themselves in the name of conventional beauty and “fitting in” with latest celebrity styles.

    • Bebe June 19, 2009 at 12:48 AM
    • Bebe June 22, 2009 at 3:44 PM

      Thank you oooo! The things we do to ourselves, in the name of beauty and fitting in with the rest of society

    • nubianqueen October 20, 2009 at 5:11 AM

      This article is so touching and inspiring . I am going through an identical situation and it brings me much comfort to know that i am not alone. I too went to the dermatologist and was saddened by the diagnosis but i know through prayer,knowledge and awareness things will get better .

    • Olarewaju May 12, 2012 at 5:36 AM

      Thanks I have been graving since 3 weeks I lost of my hair front center. I enjoy the article

    • shokolokobangose October 18, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      Thanks for your courage and writing this article. I lost my hair front and i have such a complex about it. I am scared I wont get marrried cos of it. Recently a friend made fun of my hair and I never want to speak to her ever again. I think people dont realise how much it hurts as a women when you lose your hair. Its really affects me and I dont want to get close to people so they dont find out about my hair problem. I flinch every time a guy who likes me tries to touch my wig from fear of him finding out. I admire your bravery. I could never have written the article as honestly as you did. Well done. lots of respect. I am saving up for my hair transplant now its going to cost c. N2m. when my hair grows back i am still not going to talk to the girl who made fun of me when i suffered with this hair loss.

    • joska March 11, 2014 at 7:42 PM

      thank you for this, went through this twice, had to chop once. But life happens and the lesson is learnt. You can also use Iodine to promote growth (you can Google the facts)