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Signs of Permanent Traction Alopecia

By Taylor Weeks
Medically Reviewed by Jennifer T. Haley, MD, FAAD on March 03, 2021
Spotting traction alopecia early can help you avoid permanent hair loss.

When worn too often or for too long, hairstyles that put a lot of tension on the scalp can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. If you regularly wear these types of styles — including sleek ponytails, tight braids, or heavy locs — it's important to know the early signs of traction alopecia, since treating the condition is much easier in its earlier stages.

You Probably Have Traction Alopecia If...

The Skin of Color Society explains that before experiencing any actual hair loss due to traction alopecia, you may start to notice small white or flesh-colored bumps around your hair follicles, particularly on parts of your scalp most affected by tight hairstyles. After this point, people with traction alopecia will start to notice early signs of hair loss, including:

  • Short, broken hairs around your forehead
  • A receding hairline
  • Patchy hair loss in areas pulled tight by your hairstyle (rather than thinning all over the scalp)

Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed?

Traction alopecia can be reversed in its early stages, Robin Evans, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at Yale University tells WebMD Connect to Care. According to Evans, if you start to notice signs of traction alopecia, you should switch to a looser hairstyle as soon as possible.

But according to Evans, if you continue wearing tight styles for years, you can cause permanent damage to your hair follicles. At this point, the hair will not regrow even if you switch to looser styles. So it's important for people who regularly wear tight hairstyles to be on the lookout for signs of traction alopecia. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends switching up your hairstyle every few months, and, if possible, wearing looser styles when sleeping.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Today.

The sooner you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.