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3 Traction Alopecia Myths, Debunked

By Amanda Vining
Don’t worry, wearing a hat or your hair in a ponytail isn’t necessarily going to make you go bald.

Traction alopecia is a condition that occurs when the hair on your head comes out because it has been pulled or subjected to prolonged force. Like other forms of hair loss, there are myths about what can lead to balding and how to cure hair loss once it begins. Here are some of the common myths about traction alopecia, debunked. 

Myth: Wearing hats will inevitably lead to baldness.

One of the most common myths when it comes to hair loss is that wearing hats is a guaranteed way to speed up the balding process. But that myth is exactly that: a myth. Unless you are wearing an extremely tight cap every day, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. 

According to Cleveland Clinic, it’s possible that wearing hats that are very tight or very hot could decrease blood flow to the hair follicles, stressing them and causing them to fall out, but also that the topic has not been well studied. So, wearing your favorite baseball cap a few times a week probably isn’t going to make you go bald any time soon. 

Myth: Your average ponytail will cause hair loss.

While you may lose a few strands of hair each time you pull out the rubber band holding your ponytail, case studies of hairstyles that cause traction alopecia have found that it takes a consistent amount of intense pulling on the hair follicles to create the condition. This means that your average, everyday ponytail likely isn’t going to result in significant hair loss.

Many times, the hairstyles that provoke traction alopecia are cultural or a result of one’s profession, such as ballerinas who wear their hair in very tight buns on a regular basis. A 2020 study published in StatPearls found that “traction alopecia is a common occurrence in Afro-Caribbean hairstyles which involves tight braids. Problems typically start in childhood, where they may initially be reversible.” 

Myth: Common hair loss medications are magic cures.

When it comes to traction alopecia, the success of medication treatment has not been well researched. 

“Some reports suggest minoxidil could be effective at treating traction alopecia, but this evidence is limited," Aaron Emmel, PharmD, MHA, BCPS, founder and program director at Pharmacy Tech Scholar, tells WebMD Connect to Care. "Similarly to other alopecias where minoxidil is shown to be effective, it is likely that earlier intervention would increase the chances for success.”

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.