Some fashionable hairstyles might make you vulnerable to hair loss
SUN Spotlight On: Leah’s Beauty Salon
Owner: Leah Davis
5936 Old York Road
Philadelphia, PA 19141
Appts: Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM; Saturday, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM;
Sunday by Appointment only
Specialties: Healthy Hair Care Program, Specialized Hair Cuts and Hair Color
Facebook: Leah’s Beauty Salon
By Leah Fletcher
It might seem strange to think of a young woman, below the age of 20 getting a hair transplant, but some doctors specializing in hair transplants report seeing an increase in the number of young women seeking their services, many of them African American.
The reason for the increase is traction alopecia, a hair loss condition caused by damage to the "dermal papilla" and hair follicle by constant pulling or tension over a long period of time. It often occurs among those who wear tight braids, especially cornrows, which lead to high tension, pulling and breakage of hair. Women and men who suffer from traction alopecia have found that hair loss occurs most at the hair line, primarily around the temples and the sides of their heads.
Philadelphia salon owner Leah Davis noted other contributing factors to traction alopecia include harsh chemicals and thermal styling tools, which may cause significant enough damage to hair follicles leading to hair loss. "This damage can be severe enough to pull the hair root out completely or to effectively destroy the root to the extent the hair falls out," explained Davis. "Depending on the length of time and severity the hair may never grow back."
Braids or cornrows are not the only offenders, opined Davis, who operates Leah's Beauty Salon in the Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. "There are sufferers who frequently wear their hair in a particularly tight ponytail or pigtails" she noted. "It [traction alopecia] also had been seen in those with longer hair who use barrettes or rubber bands to keep hair out of their faces."
Traction alopecia, it seems, is one of the most common causes of hair loss among African Americans. Although the previously mentioned hairstyles may be the culprit, hairstyles such as dreadlocks and single (extension) braids may also have the same effect.
With nearly 20 years in the cosmetology industry, Davis explained that women who wear weaves to conceal hair loss or purely for cosmetic purposes also are at risk for traction alopecia. The form often involves creating a braid around the head below the existing hairline, to which an extended hairpiece, or wig is attached. Since the hair of the braid is still growing, it requires frequent maintenance, which involves the hair piece being removed, the natural hair braided again and the piece snugly reattached. According to Davis, the tight braiding and snug hairpiece cause tension on the hair that is already at risk for falling out.
Davis advises those who believe they are suffering from traction alopecia to see a medical professional who will determine if the hair loss is temporary or permanent. There are other contributing factors that include hormones, issues created by pregnancy. Professionals may treat the condition with the assistance of medication and laser treatments. "Traction alopecia is revisable if diagnosed early enough, but may lead to permanent hair loss if it is undetected for a protracted period.
"The key to stopping traction alopecia is detecting it early and changing hairstyles that create undue pressure for those that are looser more gentle."
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