Traction Alopecia

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Hair gets subjected to constant pulling and tension in case of people who wear tight braids, hair weaves, and cornrows. This puts them at a greater risk of developing traction alopecia, which refers to hair loss that occurs due to damage to the dermal papilla (extensions of the dermis into the epidermis) and hair follicle. This condition is more likely to affect African-American women, Sikh men, and Japanese women. It is evidently more common in children, teenagers, and young adults. Other contributing factors include the frequent application of hot combs, dyes, bleaches, straighteners, and hair solutions.

Symptoms

Itching, dandruff, and thinning of hair (large strands of hair coming out while combing) are the symptoms which occur in the early stages of this condition. These symptoms might be followed by scarring of the new hair follicle and permanent hair loss. Many may feel a tingling sensation or pain in the affected area. Mild or moderate pain may also be felt on the scalp. In men, tenderness in the areas of the jaw or cheek may indicate this condition. Other symptoms include bald patches, perifollicular erythema, scales and pustules on scalp. Pitting in fingernails can be observed in severe cases.

Treatment

Early diagnosis can keep the condition from progressing to an irreversible stage, for which there isn’t any treatment available except for hair transplant. The best treatment method which can be taken up in the early stage of this condition, is to loosen the tension in the hair. People must refrain from the use of styling products that might build up the tension and stress on the hair follicles. It’s best to keep the hair loose. Affected people can also keep their hair loosely wrapped in a hair wrap. In some cases, people may also be advised to use wigs, until their hair has started to improve in appearance. It may take anywhere from 3 – 6 months or even a year or longer for the hair to recuperate from the damage and start growing normally.

The treatment might also involve the use of drugs such as oral or topical antibiotics. Antibiotics might be prescribed if the hair follicles have become infected. Administration of cortisone injections and/or topical cortisone creams might be recommended to reduce inflammation.

As aforementioned, hair transplant becomes an option when the condition has reached a state where the follicles are damaged beyond repair. The surgery may be taken up in order to restore the hair line or any missing patches.

On a concluding note, traction alopecia can be prevented. All you have to do is avoid styling your hair in hairstyles which cause a great amount of tension or stress on your hair.

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