What is traction alopecia?
Traction alopecia is the name given to a type of hair loss most commonly seen in people with skin of colour (pigmented skin). In its earliest stages hair loss may be reversible. Without treatment however, the condition can lead to permanent hair loss.
What causes traction alopecia?
Traction alopecia occurs as a result of continuous pulling or tension applied to the hair. Hairstyles that may cause this condition include weaves, cornrows, braids and tight ponytails or pigtails. Dreadlocks and hair extensions may also contribute to the problem.
What does traction alopecia look like?
In the early stages traction alopecia appears as small sore pimples on the scalp. If untreated it may progress, to areas of hair loss. This is most commonly seen around the temples or sides of the scalp.
How is traction alopecia diagnosed?
Formal investigations are not necessary if the affected person has had a history of wearing tight hairstyles before the hair loss occurred.
A scalp biopsy is only necessary when other causes of hair loss (scarring alopecia) need to be ruled out.
How is traction alopecia treated?
Early intervention and treatment is essential because once hair loss has occurred, it is irreversible and permanent.
It is important to stop the tension being applied to the hair as soon as possible and start treatment. This means changing to looser hairstyles. Steroid and antibiotic creams can be used to treat traction alopecia in the early stages. Oral antibiotics and the injection of steroids in inflamed areas may be helpful in some cases.
Advanced cases may require cosmetic camouflage with wigs or hair transplants.
Further information about traction alopecia
This information has been written by Dr Michelle Rodrigues