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Traction alopecia - how long does it take to become permanent?

How long does it take for hair loss from traction alopecia to become permanent?

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Traction alopecia can become permanent if one prolongs  what one did to create the problem.  Meaning, if you are braiding, cornrowing, or wearing pony-tail etc, this will cause tension on the hair, thus leading to permanent hair loss which is due to the pulling forces exerted on the scalp and breakage in the outermost hairlines.   This condition is seen in children and adults, but it most commonly affects African American women. The 2 types of traction alopecia are marginal and nonmarginal. Unlike trichotillomania, a psychiatric disorder of compulsive hair pulling that leads to patchy hair loss, traction alopecia is unintentionally induced by various hairstyling practices (eg, use of braids, hair rollers, weaves, twists, locks, or "cornrows"). In the initial stages, this hair loss is reversible.  With prolonged traction, alopecia can be permanent. Physicians, especially dermatologists, must recognize this condition early to prevent irreversible hair loss.

Medical Care: The physician must identify traction alopecia early. Failure to do so places the patient at risk for irreversible (permanent) alopecia.

  • Immediately after traction alopecia is diagnosed, any practices that exert traction on the hair must be discontinued. Discontinuing any such practices leads to complete reversal of the hair loss and regrowth within several months.
  • Topical or oral antibiotics may be prescribed to aid in the reduction of inflammation and to prevent superinfection.
  • When traction alopecia is detected later in its natural course, hair loss may be irreversible. Currently, no medical treatment is available to reverse late-stage traction alopecia.

Surgical Care: Despite the lack of medical options for the treatment of late-stage traction alopecia, achieving cosmetically acceptable correction of alopecia by means of surgical hair transplantation procedures (eg, punch grafting, flap rotation) is possible.

Diet: Sufficient levels of iron and protein in the diet may help promote

Medical/Legal Pitfalls:

  • Potential medical/legal pitfalls include the late diagnosis of traction alopecia.
    • Failure to detect this condition early in its course may result in permanent hair loss.
    • Thus, meticulously inspecting the scalp in all patients is crucial. This practice promotes the early rather than late diagnosis of traction alopecia, which allows the physician to make recommendations to reverse the ongoing hair loss.

Special Concerns:

  • Special attention should be paid to the pediatric population, especially individuals who engage in hair- grooming practices such as braiding.
    • As mentioned earlier, the failure to recognize this condition early may lead to irreversible hair loss.
    • Thus, examination of the scalp in all pediatric patients is critical.

normal hair growth.

 source:  http://www.emedicine.com/derm/topic895.htm

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