Traction Alopecia Causes and Solutions


Traction alopecia can be avoided. We cover the most common causes for traction alopecia and how it can be mitigated to encourage healthy hair growth.

Traction Alopecia is a pervasive and sometimes self inflicted condition that occurs when continuous stress or tension is applied to your hair follicles. People around the globe naturally gravitate towards certain hairstyles, or products, that unbeknownst to them can lead to hair damage, or even worse, hair loss.

Traction alopecia is usually caused by extremely tight, stressful, scalp pulling hairstyles like ponytails, braids, dreadlocks, extensions, weaves, and/or wigs. These hairstyles not only lead to hair breakage, but can also damage your hair follicles, causing them to become inflamed. If the tension isn’t ceased, and stress continues to be applied to the follicles, they eventually atrophy, and stop producing hair.

Though traction alopecia occurs within any race or individual , it’s most common among women of color.


Traction Alopecia Causes

Tight Hairstyles

The most common cause for traction alopecia is cosmetic hair stress. Styles like ponytails, braids, dreadlocks, extensions, and weaves that pull at the scalp are usually the main causes for hair loss, or breakage. Using a weave or extensions is usually a form of hair enhancement which helps to cover thin hair, but oxymoronically, using weaves or hair extensions causes traction alopecia, thus resulting in hair breakage, or worse, hair loss.

Weaves are usually applied through braiding, which is also a culprit for traction alopecia. Hairstyles that are tightly pulled back – braids, ponytails, and dreadlocks – place a large amount of tension on your hair follicles, so finding alternatives, or reducing the tensions can greatly aid with alleviating the problem.


Chemical products like relaxers, beaches, or dyes are another cause of traction alopecia. Chemicals applied to your hair disrupt the keratin structure of your follicles making it weak, brittle, and could possibly cause hair loss. Relaxers especially are extreme risky when used on hair. Depending on the strength, it could cause permanent damage to your hair follicle through chemical burn, which kills your follicle, and stops hair from growing permanently.


Traction Alopecia Signs

Early signs of traction alopecia can be found in subtle things like scalp sensitivity after a hairstyle, a headache after pulling back your hair, or scalp itch after braids have been done. These are general signs that your hair follicles are under stress.

More extreme signs are tiny bumps or scabs on your scalp. Hair breakage might also be noticeable around your hairline, behind your ears, or crown.

Traction Alopecia Solutions

In it’s early stage, traction alopecia is reversible. Simply changing hairstyles and the stressful behaviors that induce tension can stop the onset of it. If you’ve already experienced some hair lose, it may take several months for your hair to grow back. If action wasn’t taken during the initial stages, and stress was allowed to progress, your hair follicles may have suffered too much damage to successfully recover.


Keep hairstyles loose

Let your hair free sometimes, keeping it tightly pulled back constantly could potential cause hair breakage, or worse, hair loss. When you do hold back your hair, use a stretchy enough band that adds a little give to your scalp, so it doesn’t feel stressed. Also aim to keep braids loose enough to where it’s breathable.

Avoid clips or glues in weaves or extensions that pull on your hair root. The weight of them can cause extreme tension, leading to hair breakage or loss.

Change hairstyles often

Adjusting your hairstyle often shifts tension and stress on the scalp.

Use a supplement to strengthen hair

Supplements add with keeping your hair follicles and shafts strong. With pressure being added to your scalp, having adequate nutrients as a line of defense greatly aids with maintain strong, healthy hair.

Space out chemical products (if it’s needed)

Constant use of chemicals in your hair can lead to hair breakage. Give your hair shafts and follicles a break between relaxers to ensure your hair cuticles has had time to repair.


To maintain healthy, beautiful hair, aim to stay clear of extreme tension to your scalp. Hair styling once in a while is ok, but constant tension could lead to permanent damage to your hair follicles.