Like many black women, I love changing up my hair style, however, the downside is we are more likely to experience traction alopecia (form of hair loss) due to repeated pulling or tension applied to the hair follicles. This constant tension can lead to damage and, over time, cause hair loss. It is often associated with certain hairstyles and practices, such as tight braids, cornrows, weaves, extensions, and hair extensions that put stress on the hair.
Black women are at a higher risk for developing traction alopecia due to cultural and historical factors. Some of the reasons for this increased risk include:
- Hairstyles: Many traditional and culturally significant hairstyles among black women involve tight braids, cornrows, or extensions that can lead to chronic pulling on the hair follicles.
- Haircare practices: The use of chemicals and heat treatments, such as relaxers and straightening irons, can also weaken the hair, making it more susceptible to damage from tension.
- Weaves and extensions: While weaves and extensions can be a convenient way to change hairstyles, they can contribute to traction alopecia when they are attached too tightly or are left in for extended periods.
- Wigs and hairpieces: These can also lead to traction alopecia if worn too tightly or if the underlying hair is neglected.
Preventing and managing traction alopecia among black women often involves making changes to hairstyling practices. Here are some tips to help prevent or alleviate traction alopecia:
- Choose looser hairstyles: Opt for hairstyles that do not put excessive tension on the hair follicles. Looser braids, twists, and protective styles can help reduce the risk.
- Avoid excessive use of chemicals and heat: Limit the use of relaxers and heat styling tools, as they can weaken the hair over time.
- Give your hair breaks: Allow your hair to rest between protective styles and avoid continuous use of weaves and extensions.
- Proper care and maintenance: Make sure to care for your natural hair underneath protective styles. This includes regular washing, moisturizing, and gentle detangling.
- Seek professional advice: If you notice signs of traction alopecia, consult a hair specialist for guidance on treatment and potential solutions.
It's essential to remember that traction alopecia is a preventable condition, and taking steps to protect your hair and maintain healthy practices can help minimize the risk, allowing you to enjoy a wide variety of hairstyles while preserving the health of your hair.