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At Body & Soul, we are always looking to improve the health of your hair and for many years, we have been educating our clients on the damaging effects of certain styling options.  Well, now we have additional information supporting our views.  

John Hopkins University has confirmed a "strong association" between certain scalp-pulling hairstyles and the development of traction alopecia.  Traction alopecia is gradual hair loss caused by damage to the hair follicle from prolonged or repeated tension on the hair root.  An estimated one-third of African-American women suffer from the condition, making it the most common form of hair loss in our demographic, was reported after the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology published the study.  

But, we know that traction alopecia is not just affecting women of color.  We have seen many caucasian women with traction alopecia from ponytails and pulling the hair up and now men are joining the ranks with their current styling options, such as dreadlocks, braids, man buns and ponytails. 

The study also agrees that traction alopecia can be reversed if caught quickly and alternative styles are adopted.  There are many products that claim to regrow hair back from the damages of traction alopecia, however; many are not successful at their claims. One treatment that has had some effect on traction alopecia, but only in it's early stages is minoxidil treatments. Some women state that the results have been great, but they have also eliminated the cause of the traction alopecia, so it may be that the hair is growing back because the tension, pulling and weight issues have been removed.  But nevertheless, they have seen improvement. 

Styles that have high potential for traction alopecia include braids, dreadlocks, ponytails, weaves and extensions.  The traction alopecia can be intensified if you are using these styles while also chemically straightening  or using excessive heat on your hair. 

The greatest risk with extensions is when the extensions are glued in and next would be braided extensions due to the tension of the braids.  Remember that there are 4 contributing factors to Traction Alopecia. 1.  Tension 2. Weight  3. Heat and 4. Chemicals.  Tension and/or weight alone can lead to excessive traction alopecia, but heat and chemicals will further its progression.  

We have included the link to the John Hopkins study for your review.  Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have, but here are a few tips you can use. 

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/all_hairstyles_are_not_created_equal

So, what can you do? 

The best option is to eliminate any styles that create tension and pull on the hair.  Of course, we know that we lost many of you with that suggestion, so if you choose to wear ponytails and braids make sure they are loose with minimal tension. This will not eliminate the hair loss, but minimize it.  Keeping the braids loose may cause you to remove the braids more often,but the benefits are greater than the sacrifice.  We recommend removing braids frequently at least every 2 months.  When wearing ponytails, we recommend positioning the ponytail in different areas to eliminate stress in one area, but always wearing the ponytail loose.  

When considering extensions, consider options that do not require glue or braids.  These options such as microlink, tape-in and fusion extensions offer greater health to your hair and scalp.  These options eliminate excessive weight with no tension on your hair.  

Lastly, you can opt for hair styles that allow for movement and freedom of your natural textures.  Straight styles can also be safe with proper application of relaxers and/or heat.  This means if your are self relaxing, stop waiting for the burns of relaxers and using excessive heat.  Better yet, stop relaxing yourself and come see us.  Remembering that Body & Soul offers these safer options as well as many options for your textured or straightened hair that will keep your tresses beautiful and healthy.  

Special Thanks to Ms. Mildred for bringing this article to our attention.   posted: May 19, 2016 - Body & Soul Salon and Day Spa - Blog
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