Minimizing Traumatic and Traction Alopecia

Gone are the days when women are told to brush their hair 100 strokes a day for beautiful shiny locks.  At The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research, our board-certified dermatologists Dr. Edmond Griffin and Dr. Ashley Curtis can recommend ways to minimize breakage, damage, and the hair loss that often follows by helping you to identify the cause(s) and solutions of traumatic and traction alopecia.

Minimizing Traumatic and Traction Alopecia in African American WomenTraumatic and traction alopecia are the result of repeated external damage to the hair shafts. Traumatic alopecia occurs not only on the scalp but also the eyebrows and even eyelashes. It is the result of repeated manipulation of the hairs either by repeated brushing, by chemical treatments, scarves or hats that constantly rub the frontal hairline, excessive heat styling, and plucking.  Traction alopecia, on the other hand, involves constant tension placed on the hair follicles by tight hair styles such as braiding, ponytails, and sew-in hair pieces.  In this type of loss, the hair is coming out by the roots (the white keratin bulb) leaving behind areas of obvious thinning most commonly along the front and sides of the scalp. Most often traction is seen after long term braiding of the hair into tight braids for months at a time.

With traumatic alopecia, hair breaks off from the remainder of the hair strand, leaving hair in various lengths with damaged broken ends and dry brittle hair shafts. Unlike other forms of alopecia, traumatic alopecia is directly related to the stress we place on our hair many times from every day styling. Gone are the days when women are told to brush their hair 100 strokes a day for beautiful shiny locks.

Many people may experience both traction and traumatic hair loss.  The best way to combat traumatic hair loss with breakage is to analyze potentially damaging actions to your hair  like those listed above. As mentioned, using relaxers, chemicals and heat too often can weaken the hair and should be used to touch up intermittently rather than regular use. Hair moisturizers and natural oils are an effective way to make treatments last and can reduce continuation of damage.  African American hair tends to be more fragile with less elasticity. Replacing your fine tooth comb with a wide tooth variation or using the fingers can minimize breakage, as well as avoiding frequently combining chemical over-processing and heat styling.  Traction hair loss is treated differently with both medications and change in hair styling. While surgical hair replacement is an option for those with traction hair loss, it is not an option for those with breakage from multiple causes.

If you are experiencing hair breakage, damage, or loss and need help, please contact us today. To learn more about African American hair loss, be sure to connect with The Griffin Center on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.