Pin Me

An Overview of Traction Alopecia and Scarring Alopecia

written by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 2/26/2011

Traction alopecia refers to alopecia that occurs as the result of damage to the hair follicles. Scarring alopecia results from damage to the scalp. Learn about these conditions and how your hair styling habits may be causing your hair loss.

  • slide 1 of 3

    Traction Alopecia

    Causes

    Some hair styling methods result in chronic pulling on the hair follicles. When hair follicle damage occurs, it results in hair loss. Several hair styling techniques cause this type of damage. Cornrows and tight braiding typically cause follicle damage along the hairline. Chemical processing also causes damage to the hair follicles. This includes coloring hair with dyes, bleaching the hair and using chemical hair straightening methods. This is because these processes damage the keratin that gives hair its strength. Even rough brushing and combing can lead to this type of hair loss. Men who attach hairpieces directly to their hair can also experience this type of hair loss. Another form of traction alopecia is trichotillomania, which is classified as an impulse control disorder. People with this condition have a compulsive need to pull on their hair, which leads to follicular damage. If trichotillomania continues without treatment, it can lead to permanent hair loss.

    Treatments and Prevention

    The best way to prevent this form of alopecia is to avoid or limit the use of damaging hair styling techniques. If you do not engage in these practices, you will prevent the hair damage that causes this condition. If you already use these techniques, find less damaging alternatives to preserve your remaining hair and avoid additional damage. If you experience permanent hair loss due to this condition, you have the option of undergoing hair transplant surgery to replace the damaged follicular units that led to the hair loss.

  • slide 2 of 3

    Scarring Alopecia

    Causes

    Scarring alopecia occurs when something damages the scalp and causes scarring. If someone has traction alopecia for a long period of time, the chronic damage may lead to scarring. An impulse control disorder known as trichotillomania may also cause scarring of the scalp. Those with this disorder have a compulsive need to pull at their hair and pick their skin. This results in damage and scarring. Several diseases and injuries also lead to scalp scarring. If someone receives a severe burn or physical trauma, this damages the scalp and hair follicles. Medical conditions that may cause scarring of the scalp include lupus, folliculitis, viral infections, scleroderma and fungal infections of the scalp.

    Treatment and Prevention

    The best way to avoid the scarring that causes this form of alopecia is to take preventive measures whenever possible. Those who have trichotillomania may engage in cognitive behavioral therapy or take medications to control their impulses. Maintaining a clean scalp and practicing good hygiene can keep infections at bay and prevent scarring. If permanent hair loss occurs, patients have the option of undergoing hair transplant surgery to replace the lost hair.

  • slide 3 of 3

    References

    eMedicine: Scarring Alopecia

    International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery: Other Hair Loss Causes

    WebMD: Scarring Alopecia