Overcoming Traction Alopecia in Black Women in Three Easy Ways


A hair in the head is worth two in the brush.  ~Oliver Herford

Have you ever seen a woman with a wide hair part, wide enough to know that she lost some hair from that region or stared fascinated as a young woman walks by and the side of her hair and the frontal hairline are completely gone or extremely sparse and wondered what was the issue with their hair?

Well that issue is called traction alopecia, it is a condition where the dermal papilla and hair follicle is damaged.   This baldness or hair loss is not an overnight occurrence, it is a result of constantly pulling the hair for an extended period of time until the root of the hair is weakened and falls out.   In essence your hair root says, “I can’t take it anymore” and gives up.

This is a very preventable problem since one of the main causes of traction alopecia are hair styles (weaves, locs, corn rows and braiding hair too tight all lend them self to pulling the hair overtime.)  Other factors include, processing the hair too often.   The relaxed part of the hair gets re-relaxed time and again, after a while the hair will just fall out.   Brushing and combing the hair too much will also cause hair loss.  Excessive manipulation of hair is notorious for lending itself to traction alopecia.  Wearing tight head gear such as hats, head bands, or wigs, and wearing it in the same place for an extended period of time will cause the hair to be rubbed down and bald spots will become apparent.

One alarming statistic about traction alopecia is that this problem is usually found in children and teens.   This means that the adults in their lives have no idea how to handle the hair on their heads.

Giving children relaxers at a young age or braiding the hair year after year without a break can cause permanent damage to the hair follicles.   If the problem continues for too long and the hairstyle or habit continues without abating,  then the situation can be permanent unless surgery is sought to do a hair replacement.  Before it comes to that, here are three things to do:

1.  When doing a hairstyle, whether it is a regular ponytail, protective style, or putting in braids,  ensure that the style is not too tight.   There is a tendency to put in braids too tight and then hope that it loosens over time.   If you do this on a regular basis you may be killing off your hair follicles over time.   If you feel as if you can’t move your face or head or your hairstyle is giving you a headache, then you should loosen the hair immediately. When putting in hairpieces and weaves, do not use hair glue or sew the hair to a cornrow.   When weaves are worn too often,  the hair weakens where the glue was added or where the hair was sewn in.   No style is worth you losing your hair in the long run.

2.  Change up your hair routine on a regular basis.   If you always wear your hair slicked back and caught up in a ponytail or the front of your hair clipped back, then it is possible that you are putting some strain on the frontal part of your hair and the area above your ears.  Try to wear your hair in a different style sometimes.   Variety is the spice of life; apply this saying to your hairstyle within reason.

3.  Avoid wearing hats scarves and headbands in the same place all the time.   Have you ever seen someone take off their hat or head tie and the area on the head where the pressure is,  always seems to lie flat?   After a while if someone constantly wears headgear, the hair where the pressure is applied will get sparser and sparser.

Ignoring traction alopecia can lead to permanent hair loss.   It is best to nip it in the bud and change the regular hair habits that can lead to this unsightly condition.


Traction Alopecia – Hair Loss Library.com

Author: Brenda Barrett

Brenda Barrett is an author and freelance writer. She has written for several websites, including her own- blackhair101 and fiwibooks, on topics ranging from healthy hair care maintenance, human resources, and publishing. She is an avid reader of fictional novels from all genres, a habit that she picked up from she was very young. This love of fiction spilled over into writing and she currently has several novels on the market.

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    • Hi natasha. I realise a while has passed since you posted your question so i do hope you see my reply. I absolutely feel your worry and distress. I also have all the signs of traction alopecia. My once thick hair is now so thin that i.can see my scalp. Its sooo bad for self confidence! i blame mine on a badly attatched weave i had a few months back. It actually hurt so bad while she was doing it that i should have known then but as id never had a weave before i thought that was the norm

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  2. Can anyone suggest a good stylist in the Chicagoland area?

    I unfortunately went the cheap route to get my hair done for a wedding 3 weeks ago when my regular girl blew off my appointment at the last minute & now I really feel like I’m paying the price…..Traction Alopecia!!! I can see my hair breaking off and roots pulling out under my sew in. I need some type of alternative hair style….I feel like I am going to be bald when I take this weave down. Does anyone know a stylist who actually cares about health hair and/or has experience with styling wigs in the event I have no hair left? HELP!

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  3. I am 31 and I have thinning edges I know what caused it but can I stop it and grow my hair back. its just my edges and hair at the nape. I get very depressed when I look at my hair. I have to wear wigs now because I am scared to do weave with glue again because the last one I did cause my scalp to be very sore because it was pulling my edges so bad. what can I do to grow my hair back? when it grows back I promise myself that I am not putting anymore glue on my hair at all can SOMEBODY PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!

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  4. i lost my front hair line since i was 9yrs and struggling to get it back till now. I’m 29yrs and i’m hoping some day i’ll be able to do up pony tail ect. please help me out

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  5. I’m 35. I have had two sets of locs since about 19. I was doing them myself my hair is very soft and I was convinced to get it done. Worst mistake ever. The salon did up dos and tight hair styles when i always just leave it down. Needless to say a severe traction-alopecia. It is AWFUL. All I do all day is think about it, try to adjust my head so its not showing, keep my shoulders up so the locs fall forward. It’s a tiring task that has gone on for over 3 years now. I went to derma who told me those hair roots are dead and that was it and he wouldn’t suggest rogaine either or anything. I do have the black Castro oil but I use it off and on and I just end up giving up. Each day i struggle. One style does hide it but i can not do that every ..-single day not good either and i’ll end totally bald. I really really really need help. I’m going to a hair salon possible if i keep my appt. for a consult, a place that has been around for 20 plus years and i was recommended. But still i wish i never went, i wish professionals would have know the correct way to treat my locs and edges. I have long locs too but they look awful, dead, thin and stringy with so much on the sides gone.

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    • Orien, so sorry this has happened to you. You should watch Damien Walter on YouTube. He’s amazing with locs and emphasizes hair health. If there’s a chance for your hair, he’s one of the best loctitians you could go to. He’s based in Houston but travels all over the country to do hair. Just search for Damien Walter on Youtube (the black man, not the white man with the similar name). Be blessed!

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  6. Hello. I am 35. I have always had perms. One night when I had a really bad cold I had a lot of irritation around my right front edge. I woke to find the spot completely bald. Overnight the hair just fell out. That freaked me. So I started to look at my other edge and sure enough that one too was thinning. I stopped the relaxers cold. I have been natural now for 5 months. I keep my edges moisturized. I wash my hair with natural moisturizers. I stopped the shampoos for a while. I had to give my hair tender loving care.

    My relaxed hair, as my beautician told me, has pretty much all fallen off. I didn’t want to do the big chop. But I love seeing my naturally curly hair. It is so spongy. But yeah.. I’m still trying to grow my edges and there has been a lot of experimenting. I really think my hair loss was the result of nerves because my right edge will start to grow back and then overnight it is gone again. I have never worn braids or weaves. So I will need to see a dermatologist.

    Thanks for this info.

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  7. This becoming more and more common in woman. Healthy diets are important to keep in mind too.

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    • Hi, your so right eating healthy can help keep your hair grow and stay healthy. I’m older now and so now I’m eating according to my age. No junk food no fast food, healthy diet and snacks. They say you are what you eat.
      I’m eating more fruits and vegetables and Im seeing the difference in my skin and especially in my hair. Please try this, it cant hurt

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  8. ive had brotherlocks for about 4 years and overtime my hair began to thin out around my hair line and in the crown area. Concerned, i spoke to my loctician at ______ in NYC, and discussed with her my concerns. She told me not to worry and dont fret. But my intuition and just the texture of hair told me other wise. I ended up growing my new growth just enough for me to do the big chop. As a man, i was okay rocking a small fro. .. however, i was not prepared for the psychological damange of my now thinning hair and my overall appearence. to make the long story short..i no longer go to the hair salon and have began the process of growing my hair. Some parts that were inflammed due to scalp irritation, is now gettting better and my hair is coming back to somewhat an original form…I recommend for those who is suffering from this HELL… to be patient and eat well.. Do the vitamins and research your stylist.. Make sure they are educated and you too as well to do your research.Plus which ever stylist you go to, make sure they can do different styles and be HONEST with you regarding your hair. not every style is beneficial to your hair prefence. ANd realize some of the beautician are their for the money and not their to give you an honest opinion. Money Talks!!! remember

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  9. I was diagnosed with Alopecia-Areata my freshman year of highschool (I’m currently a senior now and about to graduate in June). My hair was just like the article picture but worse and wider. I lost hair all around both sides and the back.

    One tip i can give you is to go to a Dermatologist ASAP. That will help alot. I went every 6 weeks and got steriod shots in the bald areas and they gave me foams and creams as well as told me to take vitamins (rich in Omega 3-6, protien, iron etc).

    Another thing if you get relaxers.. STOP, and go natural (that can be one of the main reasons your hair loss). Drink plenty of water and try to eat alot of veges and fruits.

    BUT Please go see a Derm … you will see progress fast. My hair has grown back (it’s a little passed my shoulders now)and everyday I think about how tragic this experience was so i want to do my best at taking care of my hair.

    its going on 3 years since I had alopecia.. currently i see no forms of it but Remember IT CAN COME BACK ..so take good care

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  10. @amber I would recommend a 1:1 mixture on miconazole nitrate (yeast infection cream) and Jamaican black castor oil. Rub that on the edges daily as well as perform daily ayurvedic scalp massages (find demos on youtube. I have type 4c hair and this has helped my edges and bald spot tremendously.
    I saw a dermatologist for my traction alopecia and he prescribed betamethasone (corticosteroid)to help open up the dead follicles. I use that nightly and my MN & JBCO mix every morning. So far I am seeing very good results!
    Hope this helps.

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    • The corticosteroid prescribed for the traction alopecia… Was it a pill or a cream to rub on the scalp?

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  11. I have a daughter and she has no side hair i dont no what to do besides stop her from wearing head bans and stop her from wearing the same style but some people have told me to put something on her sides and others have told me to leave it alone so what should I do ?

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    • Castor oil is very good for filling in sparse areas of hair. The best thing your daughter can do is avoid wearing hairstyles that involve the tight pulling of hair, excessive use of gel, and definitely no glue. Low manipulation is the key!

      I had the same problem when I was 14, I stop pulling my hair back into a tight ponytail and within weeks the scalp starting growing hair. Right now, due to using the wrong type of hair brush, I have some broken edges, so I’m currently got my hair in flat twists (not done tightly) and this has greatly improved my hair health. Wish you all the best!

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      • Castor oil just makes my hair look like it was shaved off while I am sleeping .The area becomes smooth skin. It is also very sticky-sticky.

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        • Mary this happened to me as well. I thought it was very strange and I didn’t even think it had anything to do with the BJCO until now.

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    • Hi Amber,
      Having suffered from alopecia myself in the past, I know its not an easy problem to fix. It took time and lots of patience but my edges grew back!!!

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  12. Is there something I can put on the side of her hair I have heard some people say that you can get something for it and it helps but others say no just leave it alone and let it grow so i dont no what to do at this point

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  13. am a hairdresser in Kigali city in Rwanda but i need some one who can give me advices of how i can get improvement in my skills

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  14. i wanna get enough information for hair loss just all of the causes and what we can do for someone who have that problem thanks

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  1. Alopecia | Natural Roots - […] the pressure, by all means remove the braids or weave. Its just not worth the long term damage.…

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