The case of a 31-year-old South African model has stunned everyone. After years of styling, braiding and pulling, the model was left with a balding head. On closer examination, she was diagnosed with traction alopecia. While the condition has not found itself popular within the mainstream medical science, it nonetheless continues to affect every third African woman.
In fact, study as recent as 2016 observed around 6000 African female respondents. The results showed that half of the participants suffered gradual hair loss on the top of their head caused mainly by traction alopecia. The figures provide with just a small glimpse of the actual picture in Africa but experts feel the numbers are likely to be much higher. What this really means is that there is a need to be concerned about the issue more so than ever.
Braids and Plaits: Problem for the Hair?
When scientists analyzed the data of the 6000 African women, they came up with a number of propositions. First and foremost, they stressed on the point that braids and plaits are not as beneficial as people perceived them. They actually may be doing more harm to the hair than good.
The misconception really is that weaving or braiding makes the person appear much attractive. Women spend up to $6bn every year on hair cosmetics that help achieve the desired purpose. While not only it makes the female apparently “beautiful,” these practices carried out to increase hair length. This obsession reflects in the time for which hair allowed to be weaved in. The recommended duration is no longer than 2 weeks, but most would extend to as long as 3 months. The consequence of which is gradual hair loss.
More on the recommended guidelines, it is also seen that the majority of the females divorce away from them. The steaming process should be carried out by a professional but usually, women end up using wrong glues and oils that are further detrimental for the hair.
To cut long story short, type of hair styling practices are in one way or the other contributing towards alopecia.
Traction Alopecia is simply the hair loss resulting from frequent pull of hair in the same manner subsequently damaging the follicles. In case you have not already noticed it may occur through braiding, weaving or even when you make a ponytail. While hair loss is one major consequence of traction alopecia, there are other signs which may occur as a result. Commonly, people will also have pimples appearing on the scalp region, followed by redness and constant itching.
The condition itself may not be of serious medical concern, it nonetheless can have a substantial psychological impact. More so than anything else, it can lead to immediate baldness.
The treatment may not require you to take medicines etc. All you need to do is follow some essential guidelines to prevent the condition from occurring. Following are some of the things you can possibly do.
- Try not to opt for a tight hairstyle that entails a lot of pulling.
- Change your hairstyle every alternate time, consult a professional before doing so.
- Avoid using chemicals like relaxers
- Buy growth products (e.g. minoxidil)