Author Bio: Dr. Sanusi Umar MD is the author of this article.
More public figures, such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Naomi Campell, have come forward about hair loss around the edges of their hairline. This mainstream attention has prompted the question, “what is traction alopecia?” Simply put, traction alopecia is the loss of hair due to harsh grooming habits, such as tight ponytails and pulled back styles. Over time, signs of permanent traction alopecia can be seen around the edges and temple points. At this point, many women may turn to cosmetics, wigs, or even elaborate hairstyles in order to conceal the bald spots. However, there is hope for individuals wondering, “can traction alopecia be reversed?”
Celebrities with Traction Alopecia
Jada Pinkett Smith’s Struggle with Hair Loss
Jada Pinkett Smith recently revealed on her Facebook series Red Table Talk that she wears turban-wrap hairstyles in order to conceal her hair loss. In an episode centered on body image, Pinkett Smith revealed, “It was terrifying when it first started, I was in the shower one day, and just handfuls of hair, just in my hands.”
The hair loss startled Pinkett Smith, who recalled thinking, “Oh my God– am I going bald?” She cited this hair loss as the motivating factor behind her drastic change in hairstyle over the past few years, “That’s why I cut my hair, and why I continue to cut it.” While she recently updated fans on Instagram by stating that steroid injections have helped her somewhat, she acknowledged that numerous experts still have not been able to find a cause.
What is the cause of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Hair Loss?
Considering the beauty standards of the entertainment and fashion industries, it is no wonder many entertainers are showing signs of follicular distress. As an actress, Pinkett Smith has had to change her appearance several times over, and often times the characters she portrays embody the fashion trend of that era. In the 1993 crime thriller Menace II Society (dir. The Hughes Brothers), Pinkett Smith portrays Ronnie, a single mother, whose signature box braids easily date the film as a 90s classic. In the Matrix trilogy, Pinkett Smith’s character Niobe is an obvious product of the early 2000s, without a single hair out of place in her tight Bantu Knots.
These hairstyles exert a pulling force on the hair follicles in the temples and front hairline. Over time, these hair follicles can be ripped out from the roots, resulting in permanent hair loss.
Naomi Campell Prompts the Question, Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed?
Naomi Campell, while never directly addressing the issue, has been photographed several times in which bald spots along the hairline can clearly be seen. As one of the most iconic and recognizable models of the 1980s-90s, Campell helped set a precedent for inclusion and diversity in the fashion industry. Mainstream media attention has, up until now, focused on her timeless beauty. Photos of hair loss around the edges of her hairline, however, have quickly steered the conversation toward the harsh beauty standards of the fashion world, including the use of heavy extensions and weaves. The weight of these extensions can rip hair follicles out of their roots, damaging future hair growth.
So Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed or Not?
Many women, after an initial web search for traction alopecia information, may feel disillusioned or confused at the limited resources available. Reputable online forums can be a helpful place to start gathering information and pulling resources from other members of the female hair loss community. However, there are certain pitfalls that one should be careful to avoid, such as the use of home remedies and “miracle” serums to re-grow edges. When traction alopecia is in its beginning stages, the condition can be reversed by changing grooming habits to stop exerting too much force on the hair follicles. Additionally, the use of Minoxidil can help promote hair growth by increasing blood flow to the follicle.
After traction alopecia progresses to a more permanent stage, topical remedies are not likely to work. At that point, the hair follicle has been torn from its roots or traumatized by repeated pulling. When signs of permanent traction alopecia manifest, a more long-term solution can be sought, such as an FUE hair transplant.
Video: Dr. U Patient Shares “How to Grow My Edges Back From Traction Alopecia”
The patient below consulted Dr. Sanusi Umar in Los Angeles for the best treatment for traction alopecia. After years of harsh grooming, her hairline appeared to have receded. For this reason, Dr. Umar (aka Dr. U) suggested a linear-scar free FUE hair transplant using his uniquely designed Dr.UGraft System.
If you would like to consult Dr. Umar about signs of permanent traction alopecia, use the button below.
Frequently Asked Questions – Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed?
What is traction alopecia? How do I know if I have it?
Traction alopecia is a mechanical form of hair loss that is caused by harsh grooming habits. It typically manifests in areas in which hair follicles experience the most pulling force, such as the temples and front edges of the hairline. If you notice hair loss around your edges, particularly around the temple points, you may want to consult with a dermatologist near you. Another form of related hair loss is Central Cicatricial Centrifugal Alopecia (CCCA), which is the loss of hair due to chemical treatments like relaxers for kinky hair.
Is traction alopecia reversible with home remedies?
There is no evidence to support home remedies reversing traction alopecia. In its early stages, the hair loss can be stopped in its tracks by switching to less harsh, forceful grooming habits. Additionally, Minoxidil can be applied to help regrow hair. Those interested in natural botanical hair solutions may want to look into a carefully formulated topical hair product with natural ingredients, such as safflower floret extract.
For hair loss due to traction alopecia when is it too late for non-surgical treatment?
Consulting with a dermatologist may determine whether traction alopecia can be reversed with topical solutions. After the signs of permanent traction alopecia become apparent, the traumatized hair follicles will not regrow with non-surgical treatments. At this point, a follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplant can offer the ability to transfer healthy hair follicles from the back of the head to the bald areas, thus allowing you to grow your own hair on your head.
Still wondering “can traction alopecia be reversed?” Ask Dr. U using the button below: