In a recent dermatological study in Africa, nearly 22% of girls between the ages of 17 and 21 years of age were going bald due to repeated, regular tight hairstyles. That same study found 31% of all of the women examined and reviewed had the same issue.
What happens, however, when the need for quick and easy becomes a problem?
the fringe sign
One of the most prevalent characteristics described by dermatologists is what they call: "The Fringe Effect".
Usually witnessed as shortened and more fine ("baby") hair around the hairline. Most see it when it starts affecting around the face and temples - which is why it is named this way.
According to Dr. Crystal Aguh, the contributing factors for experiencing Traction Alopecia are "based on the degree to which follicles are exposed to tension, weight, heat, and hair-altering chemicals."
Dr. Aguh lists high-risk hairstyles as: Braids, Dreadlocks, tight or "ballerina" buns, and tight ponytails.
Environmental or mechanical factors contribute to your hair's ability to handle any hairstyle that has tension. If your hair is chemically processed or over-processed (feels like hay when dry and slimy when wet), then your hair is going to break easily.
Users of hot tools (flat irons, wands, etc) are also weakening their strands. Hair is most fragile when it is wet so special care during that time is also of value.
Another issue is the use of improper or incorrect products. Inexpensive (bargain or drug store) brands are often contributing to your dryness without you realizing it. Don't spend $300 at Sephora on your face then put $5 shampoo on your tresses.
The right care and protection (heat protection, leave in conditioners, etc) DO make a difference. If it can happen to your skin, it can happen to your hair. Protect it.
Poorly installed extensions can cause hair trauma, too, so be sure you're getting the right system for your hair's strength and ability.
what are some solutions?
If your hair length is an issue, there are ways to have low, loose styles that allow for a happy compromise.
Another tip is to reduce the amount of chemical processes you put your hair through. If you've been doing that yourself, a visit to a stylist can help you get a better - safer - routine.
Of course, you have to consider what products are a part of your routine. Do you use quality products? Are you using the right ones for your hair? Do you protect your hair? This matters and a stylist can help.
It is important to remember that this preventable issue can only be helped if caught early and action is taken. Once late traction alopecia (scarring) sets in, the only solution is a hair transplant.
Talk to your hairstylist today about ways that you may be able to help your hair have a better tomorrow.
Aguh, Crystal M.D. All hairstyles are not created equal: What the dermatologist needs to know about black hairstyling practices and the risk of traction alopecia. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (JAAD) and John’s Hopkins Medical School10/10/2016 (Print)
Christiana Oyinlola Akingbola, Jui Vyas. Traction Alopecia: A neglected entity in 2017. Indian Journal of Dermatology Volume 83, Issue 6: Pages 644-649
Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF, UK (Web)
Gavazzoni Dias, Maria Fernanda Reis. Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. International Journal of Trichology 7.1 (2015): 2–15. PMC. Web. 29 Oct. 2017.
Khumalo NP, Jessop S, Gumedze F, Ehrlich R. Hairdressing is associated with scalp disease in African schoolchildren. Br J Dermatol 2007;157:106-10.
Muñoz Moreno-Arrones, Oscar Vañó-Galván, Sergio. Bitemporal hair loss related to Traction Alopecia. Dermatology, Online Journal, University of California Davis. 01/01/2016 (Web)