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SuperModelMD: Help! I’m Losing My Edges

Your braids are likely way too tight, and the tension is tugging on the hair follicles, leading to damage and hair loss. When that kind of repeated tension occurs for a period of time, it increases your risk of traction alopecia.

Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe

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Dear SuperModelMD,

I heard that braids and weaves are great protective styles that help with hair growth, so I started wearing box braids for about two years now. But, I’ve started to notice that I’m actually losing a lot of hair around my edges. There is even a bald patch I noticed recently that is really freaking me out. What do you think may be going on?
-Losing My Edges

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Dear Losing My Edges,
It sounds like you may possibly be dealing with a condition called traction alopecia.

What does that mean? Your braids are likely way too tight, and the tension is tugging on the hair follicles, leading to damage and hair loss. When that kind of repeated tension occurs for a period of time, it increases your risk of traction alopecia. This form of hair loss may arise after wearing certain hairstyles like tight braids, tight pony tails, sew in extensions, and really any other styles that may pull a lot at the scalp, for prolonged periods.

First thing to do: hold off on wearing your current braided style for some time. You should also seek evaluation from a healthcare professional to determine the severity of damage, and if you are a candidate for certain treatments, e.g. minoxidil or steroid creams/injections.

Please ensure that you really ç, and alternate between various styles that don’t put further stress on the scalp. Your hairline will definitely thank you later. What you don’t want to happen is progression to the stage of scarring alopecia in which there is permanent irreversible hair loss.

Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe is a Nigerian-American medical doctor and health expert. An internal medicine physician, speaker, and blogger, Dr. Nesochi has been featured and interviewed about a wide range of health-related topics by popular media outlets including CNN, Vogue, CNBC Africa, and more. Learn more about her on drnesochi.com and her blog supermodelmd.com.

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