Dealing with hair loss or thinning?

Chat with our Care Team

Start now

Traction Alopecia Treatment Options

Kristin Hall, FNP

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Nicholas Gibson

Published 03/18/2021

Updated 03/19/2021

If you wear your hair in a style that puts pressure on its roots, you may be at risk of developing a form of hair loss called traction alopecia. 

This form of hair loss tends to develop when a continuous pulling force, such as from a ponytail, braids or even tightly slicked back hair, damages the roots of your hair. 

Hair loss from traction alopecia can become permanent if it’s left untreated, making it important to act quickly if you’re experiencing this type of hair loss.

Below, we’ve provided more information about what traction alopecia is and how it may start to affect your hair. We’ve also explained the treatment options available to stop traction alopecia, prevent permanent hair loss and help you to regrow your hair. 

Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that develops due to a continuous pulling force on your hair roots. It’s most common in people of African descent, particularly women, but can affect people of all races and sexes.

Unlike male pattern baldness, hair loss from traction alopecia doesn’t have anything to do with DHT or other hormones. 

Instead, this form of hair loss develops as a result of damage to your hair follicles. Over time, the tension caused by certain hairstyles or simply excessively long hair can physically destroy the hair follicle and prevent your hair from growing.

You may be at risk of developing traction alopecia if you:

  • Wear your hair in a ponytail, man bun or other tied back hairstyle

  • Style your hair in braids, cornrows or dreadlocks

  • Use certain chemicals to style or treat your hair

  • Use a hairpiece or other device that pulls on your hair

  • Have long hair that puts pressure on your scalp

Your risk of developing traction alopecia tends to increase as you get older. People who need to style their hair back, such as military personnel, athletes, gymnasts and others may have an increased risk of developing this form of hair loss. 

Buy finasteride

more hair... there's a pill for that

The most noticeable symptom of traction alopecia is hair loss, which usually occurs around the front and sides of your scalp. You may also notice hair in other areas of your scalp, especially parts where your hair is subject to tension due to your hairstyle.

Hair loss from traction alopecia is usually symmetrical. You may notice that tiny skin-colored or white bumps develop around your hair follicles in affected areas of your scalp.

One common sign of traction alopecia hair loss is “fringe sign.” This occurs when you lose hair in certain areas of your scalp, but retain some hair at the frontal rim of your hairline. 

In addition to hair loss, other symptoms of traction alopecia can include red skin, itching, scaling and the development of folliculitis and/or pustules. 

Will you join thousands of happy customers?

4.5 average rating

Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products, including prescription based products. Prescription products require an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary. Customers were given free product.

Traction alopecia is almost always treatable when it’s detected early. Most of the time, you can prevent traction alopecia from worsening by changing the way you style your hair. 

If you normally wear your hair in a tight hairstyle, such as braids or a man bun, try switching to a loose style that doesn’t put any extra pressure on your hair follicles. If you style your hair using products that contain chemicals, try to reduce the amount that you use.

Traction alopecia may cause your skin to become scaly and inflamed. If you notice this, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider or schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. 

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to control inflammation, irritation and other skin issues. Medications used to treat traction alopecia include:

  • Topical or injectable corticosteroids

  • Antibiotics

  • Antifungal shampoo

  • Hair health supplements such as biotin 

If you’re prescribed any of these medications or care products, make sure to use them exactly as instructed by your healthcare provider. 

To speed up hair regrowth, you may want to try a topical medication like minoxidil. This works by improving blood flow to your scalp and encouraging your hair follicles to transition from a resting phase into active growth. 

Minoxidil comes in liquid or foam form. Our guide to applying minoxidil for hair growth goes into more detail about how you can use this medication to stimulate hair growth in areas affected by traction alopecia. 

Although traction alopecia is easy to treat when it’s detected early, it can cause permanent hair loss when it’s left untreated for a long period of time.

If you have permanent hair loss from traction alopecia, medications like minoxidil aren’t likely to be effective. This is because long-term traction alopecia damages the hair follicles so badly that they’re largely replaced by a form of scar tissue.

Hair loss treatments, delivered

In Conclusion

Copy Link

Although traction alopecia is much less common than male pattern baldness, it may be an issue if you wear your hair in a ponytail, dreadlocks, braids or other tight, pulled back hairstyle.

Since traction alopecia can cause permanent hair loss, it’s best to take action as soon as you’re aware that you’re losing hair. 

Most of the time, you can prevent traction alopecia from getting worse by changing to a hairstyle that puts less tension on your hair follicles. You should also try to avoid using chemicals or heat treatments that can damage your hair. 

Finally, to speed up your hair regrowth, consider using science-based medication like minoxidil to stimulate blood flow and keep your follicles actively growing.

3 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Pulickal, J.K. & Kaliyadan, F. (2020, August 12). Traction Alopecia. StatPearls. Retrieved from
  2. Kapadia, A. (2014). Traction alopecia. Retrieved from
  3. Heath, C.R., Robinson, C.N. & Kundu, R.V. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kristin Hall, FNP

Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership. 

She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH

Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare. 

Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.

Read more