TRACTION ALOPECIA: The Hard Truth About Hair Styling & Scalp Health

by | Dec 21, 2023

Traction alopecia is a common condition often overlooked in our daily hair styling routines and hair care habits. It is a unique type of hair loss that generally results from the constant tension exerted by certain hairstyles — a subtle yet significant reminder of how our hair care choices impact our hair’s health and overall vitality.

In this blog, we aim to educate readers about the causes, early signs, and preventative measures of traction alopecia. In addition, we’ll give you a rundown of the comprehensive hair loss treatments available in Singapore, the most notable of which are FUE Hair Transplant Surgery, Regenera Activa, Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), and Calecim.

Understanding Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that arises not from internal factors, but from the external stress we put on our hair. It’s a condition where the constant pulling and tension from certain hairstyles lead to gradual hair loss, primarily around the edges of the scalp. It is distinctly different from genetic hair loss conditions like male or female pattern baldness, which are typically driven by internal genetic factors and hormonal changes.

The primary culprits behind traction alopecia are hair styling practices that many of us might not even realise are harmful. Hairstyles that maintain tension on the hair — tight ponytails, braids, cornrows, or hair extensions — can all contribute to this condition. 

Over time, hairstyles like these pull on the hair follicles, weakening them and eventually leading to hair loss. This process is gradual, and the damage accumulates silently, often making it hard to detect until significant hair loss has occurred.

Identifying Traction Alopecia

In its early stages, the signs of traction alopecia are often subtle, typically starting with small bumps around the hairline or areas where the hair is pulled tightly. You may also notice redness, itching, or even soreness. As the condition progresses, these symptoms can evolve into more noticeable hair thinning and receding hairlines, particularly around the temples and forehead.

If traction alopecia is left untreated, the continuous strain on the hair follicles can lead to permanent damage. It means the hair may not grow back, even if the tension-causing hairstyles are stopped. Recognising these early symptoms and adjusting hair styling habits can halt and potentially reverse the condition.

Consulting with a specialist at the first signs of hair loss is crucial. A dermatologist can provide a proper diagnosis and a personalised treatment strategy. They can also offer advice on hair care and styling practices that are gentler on the follicles, helping preserve the hair’s health and density.

Prevention & Treatment of Traction Alopecia

Preventing traction alopecia primarily entails adopting hair styling practices that minimise stress on the hair follicles. For instance, opting for a loose bun or a soft braid can be a stylish yet healthier alternative to tight hairstyles. Also, regularly changing the position of ponytails or braids can prevent constant tension on the same areas of the scalp.

Incorporating gentle hair care routines is another vital step. It includes using mild shampoos and conditioners that nourish the scalp and hair, avoiding harsh chemical treatments, and minimising the use of heat styling tools. Regular scalp massages can also promote circulation, supporting healthier hair growth.

For those already experiencing hair thinning due to traction alopecia or other reasons, exploring alternative hair loss treatments can be beneficial. Options like topical treatments, scalp micropigmentation, or even hair systems can offer cosmetic solutions. For more advanced cases, certain FDA-approved medications might be considered under the guidance of a medical specialist.

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Hair Loss Solutions in Singapore

According to a survey conducted in 2022, hair loss was the top concern among around 44 percent of people in Singapore. Luckily, we have easy access to a wide range of hair loss treatment options, each offering unique benefits. The treatments available in Singapore offer different approaches to tackling hair loss, catering to various needs and preferences. 

One of the most notable hair loss solutions is Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE) Hair Transplant Surgery. This minimally invasive procedure involves extracting individual hair follicles from denser areas of the scalp and transplanting them to areas with thinning hair. FUE is renowned for its natural-looking results and minimal downtime, making it a popular choice for those seeking a permanent solution to hair loss.

Regenera Activa is another innovative treatment available in Singapore. This therapy utilises the body’s regenerative capabilities to stimulate hair growth. By extracting a small sample of the patient’s scalp tissue, the treatment harnesses growth factors and stem cells, which are then reinjected into the areas of hair loss. This non-surgical method typically requires only one session, appealing to those looking for less invasive options.

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) offers a non-surgical approach to hair restoration. This therapy uses specific wavelengths of light to stimulate hair follicles, encouraging growth and reducing hair loss. LLLT is often preferred for its convenience and lack of side effects. It suits most patients, including those seeking supplementary treatment to other hair loss therapies.

Calecim is a newer addition to the range of hair loss treatments involving a serum derived from stem cell technology. This topical treatment is known for rejuvenating and regenerating the scalp at the cellular level, promoting healthier hair growth. Calecim is often used in conjunction with other therapies, enhancing overall results.

Hair Loss Clinic in Singapore

When selecting a hair loss doctor, it’s crucial to consider their qualifications, expertise, aesthetic sense, and ethical behaviour. Ensure that the specialist is a registered medical practitioner with the Singapore Medical Council and holds a valid Practising Certificate. An affiliation with the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery is a valuable credential. Ideally, your doctor should have a background in dermatology or reconstructive surgery. Beyond years in practice, their commitment to continuous learning, like participating in seminars and workshops, is essential. 

At Dr Tyng Tan Aesthetics and Hair Clinic, we strive to provide detailed information through blogs like this, encouraging you to ask questions and fully understand any procedure you’re considering. If you want to learn more about traction alopecia and other hair loss problems, and how our personalised treatment plans can help, please contact +65 6235 0010 today to book a consultation with Dr Tyng Tan.

Dr. Tan Tyng Yuan
BSc (Hons), MBBS (London), Grad. Dip. Dermatology (UK), Dip. AAAM (USA), Grad. Fellow in ISHRS (International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery)

About Dr Tyng Tan

Dr Tyng Tan has over ten years of experience treating male pattern baldness with the minimally invasive, non-strip method known as FUE (Follicular Unit Extraction) Hair Transplantation.

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