How Hair Extensions Cause Traction Alopecia

How Hair Extensions Cause Traction Alopecia?

Hair extensions are a popular styling choice among many looking to add volume, length, or texture to their hair. However, there is a downside to using hair extensions: they can cause traction alopecia, a type of hair loss caused by excessive tension on the scalp. Fortunately, with the right precautions, you can avoid the risk of traction alopecia from hair extensions and still enjoy the benefits of wearing them. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how hair extensions cause alopecia, the signs, and symptoms to look out for, and how you can prevent it.

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Hair exten­sions have been around for a very long time. They are used by women of all eth­nic­i­ties to broaden the range of styles they can use for their hair. They add vol­ume, color, and tex­ture to hair, and they change the wearer’s appear­ance dramatically.

The ear­li­est hair exten­sions were used by the ancient Egyp­tians, where men and women wore hair exten­sion wigs to ward off lice. Back then, it was not uncom­mon for men to shave their heads and wear a wig over their bald scalps.

traction alopecia hair extensions

Hair exten­sions have come into and fallen out of fash­ion many times. In the 1800s, women were encour­aged to keep their hair nat­ural, so exten­sions fell by the way­side. Mean­while, hair exten­sions crept back into fash­ion dur­ing the 20th cen­tury, and women used them to recre­ate the pom­padour, a French hair­style fea­tur­ing hair worn high on top of the head and dec­o­rated with jew­els, beads, and flowers.

Dur­ing this time, the hair exten­sions were usu­ally attached using beeswax. The hair itself was mostly real hair cut from peo­ple with long hair, who would often grow their hair long specif­i­cally to sell it. Because of its high cost, only the rich could afford these hair extensions.

Nowa­days the cost is far lower, and exten­sions are avail­able in both real hair, syn­thetic and mixed vari­eties. The meth­ods of pro­duc­tion have evolved as tech­nol­ogy pro­gressed, and so have the meth­ods of attach­ment. Gone are the days of beeswax. Now mod­ern attach­ment meth­ods include: micro braid­ing; strand-by-strand “fusion” meth­ods (hot and cold); sewn-in weaves; bond­ing weaves; Brazil­ian knots; clip-ins; and draw­string pony­tails. The range of options is dizzying!

How can hair extensions cause hair loss by trac­tion alope­cia?

It is not all good news, how­ever. The increased pop­u­lar­ity and afford­abil­ity of hair exten­sions has also meant an increased risk of hair loss by trac­tion alope­cia. This is the form of hair loss that is caused by apply­ing pres­sure to the hair follicle.

Pulling hair too tightly or adding weight to the hair causes increased pres­sure on the fol­li­cle. What­ever the attach­ment method used with hair exten­sions, they all put addi­tional weight on the fol­li­cles of your real hair. With con­stant use of exten­sions, hair fol­li­cles become damaged.

Under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, part of the growth cycle for a hair fol­li­cle is the tel­o­gen (“rest­ing”) phase. The hair will enter this phase once at the end of every growth cycle, and if the fol­li­cle has been dam­aged (such as through pro­longed use of hair exten­sions), it will not leave the rest phase. The hair fol­li­cle will become dormant.

When more and more fol­li­cles are ren­dered dor­mant, patches of hair loss become notice­able. In trac­tion alope­cia caused by exces­sive use of hair exten­sions, hair loss is found pri­mar­ily around the hair­line, where the roots are often weaker than those on the rest of the head and on the crown; where the hair is most often pulled tight into a pony­tail, and the draw­string pony­tail attach­ment method for hair exten­sions is com­monly applied.

1. Sew-in weave

The most noto­ri­ous attach­ment method for caus­ing trac­tion alope­cia through hair exten­sions is the sew-in weave. This method fea­tures hair tightly braided into “tracks” along the scalp, with the exten­sions sewn into the braids. The tracks must be braided very tightly if they are to with­stand the extra weight of the hair exten­sions, which puts a lot of pres­sure on the fol­li­cles. As new hair grows in, the extra growth is pulled on by the weight of the hair exten­sion, fur­ther dam­ag­ing the fol­li­cle and even­tu­ally result­ing in trac­tion alopecia.

2. Bond­ing glue

Excess weight on the fol­li­cle is not the only prob­lem. Bonded hair exten­sions, which use a bond­ing glue that is, in essence, the mod­ern beeswax, to attach wefts to the scalp, require a spe­cial glue-removing sub­stance to remove. Once the bond­ing glue is soft­ened or bro­ken down using the glue remover, the hair exten­sions can be sim­ply pulled out.

The prob­lem is that the glue is very strong, and the remover is not always applied effec­tively to every sin­gle point that the glue is attached to the wearer’s head. As a result, nat­ural hair is pulled out at the roots when bonded hair exten­sions are removed. This dam­ages the hair fol­li­cles and can lead to trac­tion alopecia.

3. Strand-by-strand

Other attach­ment meth­ods cause trac­tion alope­cia in ways sim­i­lar to the two meth­ods dis­cussed above. The strand-by-strand method adds excess weight to the fol­li­cle and so causes alope­cia in a sim­i­lar way to the sew-in weave.

Brazil­ian knots, on the other hand, use a com­bi­na­tion of thread­ing and glu­ing. Because Brazil­ian knots are attached as close to the scalp as pos­si­ble, they put a large amount of pres­sure on the fol­li­cle both due to the exten­sions them­selves and through extra weight added when the hair grows out naturally.

Trac­tion alope­cia occurs at dif­fer­ent rates for dif­fer­ent peo­ple, but the worst dam­age occurs when exten­sions are used con­tin­u­ously. Use should, there­fore, be cur­tailed, with exten­sions worn rarely and always fol­lowed by a few months “recov­ery time” to let your fol­li­cles repair themselves.

4. Chem­i­cal relax­ants and hair colour­ing

Chem­i­cal relax­ants for your hair, and also hair colour­ing, weak­ens the roots and makes the hair even more likely to fall out under the strain of hair exten­sions. You should, there­fore, avoid colour­ing your hair or using hair relax­ants if you intend to wear hair extensions.

Related post;  Hair extensions for men balding

Traction alopecia treatment

It is not all bad news, though. Trac­tion alope­cia can be treated, even after years of hair abuse, but it requires patience and ded­i­ca­tion. Treat­ment is only pos­si­ble by stim­u­lat­ing fol­li­cles, mak­ing them grow new hair.

This requires a healthy scalp, so trac­tion alope­cia hair trans­plant surgery should only be used as a last resort. Trans­plant­ing hair into an unhealthy scalp only results in uptake fail­ure as the dam­aged scalp will not be able to nour­ish the new hairs and sus­tain growth.

Dealing with traction alopecia is easy once it is diagnosed correctly. It may be a case of wearing the hair more naturally if it is discovered early. The bald patches or thin hair may not even be that noticeable, and it may be possible to cover them with effective grooming. A more advanced case, usually caused by the hair being severely mistreated, may leave bald patches that are highly noticeable and will obviously be more challenging to handle. Sometimes, the best answer is to shave off the remaining hair and use a cosmetic wig and hair extensions for alopecia while the condition heals.

Even after this, you must give as much help as possible to the follicles so that new hair can grow without difficulty. Nutrition is essential, and the most crucial factor is ensuring you have enough protein in your diet. Protein is the building block of hair, so you need to have enough of it to allow this to happen. The B vitamins are also essential for the hair, so make sure that your diet includes plenty of these. It is possible to use hair growth supplements if you need more B vitamins from food.

The external scalps should be taken care of as it is a crucial part of the treatment for traction alopecia. Avoid using harsh chemical shampoos, especially if you have bare patches. The toxic chemicals can actually seep into the interior of the head. Use an effective natural cleanser to ensure that the follicles can breathe easily, and try to find a natural shampoo that contains vitamins or labeled DHT blockers. This is not as important as internal nutrition but is another helpful asset when overcoming traction alopecia caused by hair extensions.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *