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Are your braids adding to your hair troubles? Read on to find out more about this condition and what you can do to stop it.
Your hairline is undoubtedly the region of your hair that has some of the finest, shortest, most fragile hair strands—probably why they’re called baby hairs. Sadly, this same hairline is where many women do the most damaging styling. We subject our hairline to gruesome brushing, we fiddle with it constantly, suppress it with gels, braid the life out of them and apply hot tools like they weren’t already seemingly weak. All of these highly manipulative hair treatments and styling puts the hairline at risk for traction alopecia.
Traction alopecia is a form of alopecia, or gradual hair loss, caused primarily by pulling force being applied to the hair.
It’s not rocket science. Excessively tight braids and twists can cause breakage at the roots.
Women who frequently wear their hair in a particularly tight ponytail, pigtail, or braid, put significant heat and tension on the hairline, get chemical relaxers, repeatedly use tight sponge rollers, and brush already fragile hairs, are most likely to have traction alopecia. Even wearing headbands tightly in the same place every day can also lead to hair loss.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re on a healthy styling routine that avoids hot tools or relies on protective styles like wigs, you could still be putting your delicate edges at risk with certain hair accessories. For example, wearing a hair wrap which has an elasticated band every night can cause traction alopecia because it rubs against the front hairline.
No matter the source of hair loss, the single common factor for all traction alopecia case is repetition, especially when you fail to give your hair and its edges a breather after mindless tight hairstyles.
Knowing the things that put you at risk for traction alopecia can help you stay away from them and protect them. If you are already experiencing the condition, then that awareness will help you stop it while protecting regrowth.
Also, watching out for the signs is a crucial part of working against traction alopecia, and that’s because subtle signs may appear way before you notice any receding hairlines or hair loss
Thinning in the frontal hairline, especially in front of the ears, could be a red flag. Changes in the thickness, strength, and texture of your hair, no matter how slight, also serves a red flag.
Other possible signs may range from tenderness in the affected area, small bumps and pus-filled blisters on the scalp, short or broken hairs right around a balding area, and whitehead-looking pustules at the areas of significant pulling. Also look out for redness of the scalp, soreness or stinging of your scalp, itching, scaling, folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles).
Eventually, the hair follicles may become damaged, scarred and unable to produce new hair.
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STOP every damaging hair styling and treatment
Just knowing that you may be at risk for traction alopecia is not enough. You need to take measures, and it starts with laying off highly manipulative hairdos. Braids with extensions should not be left longer than five or six weeks. Say no to the hot tools and the harsh chemicals. Prevent traction alopecia by avoiding tight braids.
Wear your hair in different styles; switch things up. By mixing up your styling methods, you can prevent long term or permanent damage to the follicles.
Ask for knotless braids at the salon whenever you wear braided extensions. This method weaves hair into the braid in a way that minimizes tugging on fragile hair follicles
Let your hair breathe
Whenever you take braids or extension out of your hair, let your hair rest for at least two to four weeks. This step helps your hair regain strength from the suppression.
Also, replenish your hair’s nutrients and take away all the grime by shampooing and conditioning your hair with natural, organic hair products after you take your extensions off
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Protect your regrowth
Protecting new growth involves a lot of healthy practices– one of which is ensuring that your hair is kept moisturized and well nourished. Go beyond washing and conditioning (which you should do twice or thrice a week max) to deep conditioning at least once a month. Provide your hair with moisture retainers such as essential oils (olive oil, tea tree oil, etc.), shea butter.
Remember to prevent hair breakage by wearing a silk hair bonnet or scarf to bed at night. You may also incorporate silk pillowcases if you want to accelerate the results. The reason why cotton pillowcases and nonsilk head coverings are a no-no is because of how they pull at your hair ends, causing them to become prone to jagging and splitting. Also, they absorb your hair’s moisture, leaving your hair dry and prone to more breakage. Silk head coverings mitigate all these.
Finally, let your hair speak to you. It’s the person who wears the shoes that knows precisely where it pinches.