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Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed?

Are you noticing your hairline gradually start to recede? Are you becoming increasingly concerned about it? If so, you may be suffering from traction alopecia.

Can traction alopecia be reversed? What does traction alopecia mean for your hair growth? Keep on reading to find out the answers…

Woman with curly hair looking into the mirror examining her hair loss

What Is Traction Alopecia?

Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss that results from physical or chemical trauma to the hair. It can occur when the hair is pulled too tightly into hairstyles, such as ponytails and braids.

The continuous pressure on the follicles damages them and prevents new hairs from growing in their place.

This causes baldness or thinning of the affected area, which is usually concentrated around the front of the scalp.

Traction alopecia may also result from using hot styling tools like curling irons, straighteners, or blow dryers that damage fragile strands.

Chemical treatments used to relax or color hair can cause traction alopecia if used too frequently without any breaks in between applications.

What Are The Symptoms Of Traction Alopecia?

Symptoms of traction alopecia can range from mild to severe. Some key signs to look out for include:

  • Gradual hair thinning, particularly around the hairline and temples
  • Receding hairline
  • Redness, itching, and inflammation of the scalp
  • Small bumps or pimples around the affected areas
  • Tender spots on the scalp, especially after removing a tight hairstyle

If you suspect you have traction alopecia, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis.

They’ll perform a thorough examination of your scalp and hair to assess the extent of hair loss and rule out other potential causes.

Woman showing her hair loss issues at the front of her hairline

Factors Contributing to Traction Alopecia

Hairstyling Practices

One of the main factors contributing to traction alopecia is the hairstyling practices you choose.

Wearing your hair in tight hairstyles, such as braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, and tight ponytails, can lead to hair thinning and eventual hair loss.

The constant pulling on your hairline when securing your hair in a tight bun, for example, can cause unnecessary stress on your hair follicles.

Using heat setting tools, such as flat irons, curling wands, or hairdryers can also have a detrimental impact on your hair.

Use of Hair Extensions and Accessories

Including hair extensions and weaves into your hairstyles can often lead to traction alopecia.

Hairpieces that are glued or tightly sewn onto the scalp can put additional strain on your hair follicles.

Using hair accessories, such as rubber bands, tight hair ties, or headwear, like hats or wigs, can contribute to the development of traction alopecia.

It’s essential to be mindful of the chemicals used in hair relaxers and other chemical treatments, as these can weaken your hair and increase the risk of hair loss.

Your hair is also susceptible to stress when using hair care products that contain harsh ingredients or unnecessary heat styling.

Cultural and Ethnic Factors

Traction alopecia commonly affects individuals of African descent due to cultural and ethnic hairstyling practices that involve tight braids or other styles that put significant tension on the hair and scalp.

While it’s important to embrace your cultural and ethnic identity, consider protective styles that are gentle on your hair, such as braids that are not too tight or using strands of fabric instead of rubber bands to tie your hair.

How To Prevent Traction Alopecia

Preventing Traction Alopecia

To prevent traction alopecia, it’s essential to avoid hairstyles and practices that put excessive stress on your hair and scalp.

This includes tight buns, ponytails, and braids, which are especially common among gymnasts and dancers.

Switch to looser hairstyles or take breaks between wearing tight styles to reduce the risk of hair loss.

Ensure that you treat your hair gently when brushing and washing. Using a satin wig cap can further protect your hair from friction and tension.

Ensure you have a healthy diet that promotes hair growth; including sufficient protein and essential nutrients.

Regularly moisturizing your hair with natural oils can keep the strands flexible and less prone to breakage, further reducing the chances of developing traction alopecia.

Treating and Reversing Traction Alopecia

If you’re already experiencing traction alopecia, the first step to reversing it is to stop the practices that caused it.

Consult a doctor or dermatologist if symptoms continue or worsen, as they can advise you on the best options for your situation.

In some cases, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications might be prescribed to treat infections or inflammation on the scalp.

Your doctor might recommend over-the-counter treatments, such as minoxidil (Rogaine), which can stimulate new hair growth.

Increasing blood flow to the affected area, either through scalp massages or the use of certain products, can help promote hair regrowth.

If the traction alopecia has become permanent due to scarring or extensive hair loss, surgery may be an option. This could involve hair transplant procedures that transplant healthy hair follicles to the affected areas.

Young woman shocked at the amount of hair loss she has on her hairbrush

Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed?

Traction alopecia can be reversed if it is caught early. The earlier signs of traction alopecia are noticed, the higher the success rate of regrowing hair and reversing the damage.

Common signs include bald patches along the hairline, scaring in the bald spots, and noticeably thinning or receding hairlines.

Causes of traction alopecia include tight hairstyles that cause tugging on delicate areas along your scalp such as braids, buns and cornrows.

If these hairstyles are done too tightly or kept up for long periods of time, then permanent hair loss can occur from traction alopecia.

Fortunately, if you catch it early enough, then you can reverse the damage with a few simple steps like avoiding tight hairstyling techniques and changing out hairstyle every couple of weeks to give your hair a break from pulling it tightly.

You can also use gentle shampooing methods that won’t pull at your already-damaged roots.

Regular scalp massages may also help promote circulation which helps stimulate new hair growth in affected areas, so they have a chance to grow back before permanent damage has set in.

Finally, some products made specifically for repairing damaged follicles can help nourish them back to health so new healthy hairs will regrow.

After any current ones fall out due to over manipulation or mechanical stress caused by tight braiding styles or other high tension methods usually associated with traction alopecia.

What Are the Signs of Permanent Traction Alopecia?

Signs of permanent traction alopecia include swelling or inflammation along with visible bald spots or patches.

The skin surrounding the affected area may feel numb, and you may experience itching or burning sensations. Permanent damage to the hair shafts can also occur in some cases.

How Do I Avoid Traction Alopecia?

To avoid traction alopecia, keep your hairstyle loose so that it does not pull on your hair strands excessively.

Avoid wearing tight ponytails and cornrows for long periods of time and opt for softer styles such as waves or buns instead.

Are There Any Hairstyles for Traction Alopecia?

There are a variety of hairstyles that are safe to wear with traction alopecia.

These include low-tension braids, wraps with minimal pulling, high buns without tight elastics, loose ponytails tied at least two inches away from the scalp with soft bands, and gentle curls worn without clips or pins.

Woman parting her hairline to show her traction alopecia hair loss

Does Pulling My Hair Back Lead to Permanent Damage?

Pulling your hair back tightly can cause permanent damage over time if done too often as this can lead to what is known as “traction alopecia”– a form of hair loss caused by excessive tension from certain hairstyles (e.g., tight ponytails).

What Should I Do if I Have Already Developed Permanent Traction Alopecia?

If your case of permanent “traction alopecia” has already progressed beyond repair then you will need to focus on protective measures such as avoiding using tight styling devices or excessive brushing that could aggravate existing damage.

Try keeping your overall style loose so that any added stress placed on individual hairs or sections is minimized.


How Do I Know if I Have Developed Permanent Traction Alopecia?

You may experience symptoms such as swelling along with visible bald patches or spots where the skin no longer has any feeling because all sensation has been lost due to damaged nerve endings.

You may also suffer from itching and burning sensations around those areas. Finally, you may start noticing areas where hair seems particularly loose due to extreme breakage from chronic pulling at the roots.


Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss caused by physical or chemical trauma to the hair. It can occur when strands are pulled too tightly into hairstyles, such as braids and ponytails.

Heat styling tools, chemical treatments, and certain cultural hairstyling practices can also contribute to traction alopecia.

To prevent traction alopecia, it’s essential to avoid tight hairstyles altogether or take breaks when you do wear them.

Treating traction alopecia involves stopping any practices that are damaging your scalp and hair follicles as well as using over-the-counter treatments or surgery if necessary. 

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