Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic

Traction Alopecia- the preventable epidemic

There is a hair loss condition that has consistently remained present in society and yet not been addressed. A condition that is utterly preventable and yet incredibly prevalent. It is called Traction Alopecia and now research is finally being done to clearly illustrate the damaging effects of aggressive styles such as weaves, braids, locs and tight ponytails that cause it.

Now, John Hopkins University researchers have published a study in the journal of the american academy of dermatology that identifies significant association of tight hairstyling with hair loss. The study is one of the first to finally illustrate the importance of having a strong knowledge of hair styling techniques applied to the hair, to understand the causative factors of hair loss and therefore how to best manage the condition and provide invaluable advice ongoing.

Here at the Fulham Scalp & Hair Clinic we’ve known that the continuous pulling force put on the follicle can cause it to produce weaker and weaker hairs, before eventually giving up completely leaving scarred follicles behind.
We’ve also known that aggressive styling on chemically processed and heat damaged hair can lead to even faster hair loss and breakage.
All this damage is preventable if patients are willing to change the way they style their hair and seek treatment sooner rather than later.

For years and years we continue to see patients arrive at our clinic, in desperation for their edges and hairline, and the number of traction alopecia diagnoses we reach every week hasn’t diminished, stemming mainly from black women.
​Afro hair is more fragile but is by no means less healthy or able to grow than european hair. When both hair types are put under tension from heavy extensions and damaged by heat they both become fragile, however these aggressive styling techniques are currently far more common amongst black women, and as a result this group suffers disproportionately from traction alopecia.

We need to change this and it starts with educating ourselves and being clear about what will and wont cause damage to our hair.

  • Tight hairstyles day in, day out WILL cause damage to the follicle.
  • Single braiding the hair, particularly with long/heavy braids WILL cause damage to the follicle.
  • Weaves and extensions, attached tightly and left in WILL cause damage to the follicle.
  • Direct heat to the hair from blow driers and straighteners WILL weaken the hair shaft and result in breakage.
  • Chemical relaxers, perms  and permanent colours applied incorrectly and at too high a strength WILL weaken the hair shaft, result in breakage and may also result in chemical burns.

    Think about how many of the above you may be guilty of all at the same time. Now ask yourself, does your hair really feel as healthy and strong as it should?

    Early intervention in treating traction alopecia can have incredible results and hair can regrow once more, but if left untreated it can scar and hair loss will be permanent. If you are worried about your hair and suspect you may have traction alopecia, please get in touch so that we can offer clear, expert advice.

    Let us avoid the avoidable and enjoy strong hairlines and beautiful growth.

    Our best wishes,
    ​Teresa and Eleanore

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