What is Traction Alopecia and How to Treat It

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Alopecia hair loss is a nightmare at the best of times. Fret not, however; from those caused by a bad bout of stress to the hormone motivated cases - there's a multitude of ways to approach treatment. When it comes to traction alopecia in men, though, things can get a little trickier. Let's take a look at your options.

Read more Men’s Health features.

What is Traction Alopecia?

Traction alopecia is when a severe amount of pressure is placed on the root/hair follicle causing hair to cease growing. One of the harsher forms of alopecia, it's notoriously difficult to cure unless caught at an early stage.

Also known as tension alopecia, ballerina baldness or traumatic alopecia, it's caused in a number of ways. From simply styling hair in tight men's cornrows styles, male hair buns or braids, to continued wear of restricting headgear like a bicycle helmet; the general idea of traction alopecia's causes is that they all stem from the physical pulling of hair from the root.

Is traction alopecia reversible? Like most hair conditions, in the right circumstances, you can typically reverse the effects of traction alopecia which we'll cover in detail later.

Traction Alopecia Symptoms

Though symptoms aren't always going to show up with Traction Alopecia, there are a few things you can be looking out for that may be of concern:

  • Itchy scalp or thinning hair.
  • Bumps on the scalp.
  • Discomfort on hair follicles after wearing a hat for long periods of time.
  • Relief after untying a ponytail/ taking a braid out.
  • Constant headaches for those with dreadlocks.
  • Feeling the need to take painkillers to relieve hair tension.


hairstyle for receding hairline
Thinning Hairstyles


Can the Man Bun Cause Hair Loss?

It's a style that's been equally loved and loathed by generations, and although it's been a friend to many, can the man bun contribute to a receding hairline? As we've stated before, traction alopecia is caused by repeated strain on the hair roots, and various man bun hairstyles can cause this. If you're constantly putting your hair up in a tight top knot man bun, you're likely to be causing unnecessary strain on your roots. 

A men's top knot on thin hair can do even more damage as you're already working with fragile hair that's more likely to break. If you're going for a man bun, think about hair loss and make sure you're not pulling your hair too tight and that you only wear it up for a couple of hours at a time, giving your hair time to rest. The wrong man bun can cause baldness, so take it easy on the hair ties.  

man bun causes hair loss

Traction Alopecia Treatment

Wondering how to reverse traction alopecia? Of all of the alopecia hair loss group, traction alopecia regrowth is up there with the most difficult to approach with treatment success heavily based on the stage at which you catch it.

  • Minoxidil: The most common treatment for traction alopecia, minoxidil is a topical solution that works by strengthening weakened hair. While it's worth a try regardless of stage, this is typically most effective in minor to moderate cases.
  • Change Your Style: Somewhere between treatment and preventative method, changing your style is a mild approach to the task of stopping traction alopecia from spreading. If you've been wearing hair in a way that's painful to touch, such as samurai hair knots or dreads, it's time to change things for one of many hairstyles for hair loss prevention.
  • Hair Transplant: An extreme, albeit proven method. A hair transplant is one of the closest things to a traction alopecia cure. While it's a little pricier than some of the other options, it's a method that's given proven results.


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Hairstyles for Thinning Hair


What is Traction Alopecia

  • Traction alopecia is when a great amount of pressure or strain is placed on the root of the hair causing it to cease growing.
  • Wearing tight hats, dreadlocks, cornrows or restrictive headwear are some of the most common causes in men.
  • Currently, the most effective treatments are changing your hairstyle, hair transplants and minoxidil.


mens traction alopecia
Tension Alopecia


On That Note

That's your lot! While traction alopecia, much like every other hair loss condition, can be incredibly traumatic - there's always a solution. Whether taking preventative methods and opting for hairstyles for alopecia prevention or treating with minoxidil/hair transplants, a hair loss expert can guide you regarding your best available course of action. Good luck!


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