Traction Alopecia in Men

what is traction alopecia?

Traction Alopecia in men is a hair loss condition resulting from continuous tugging at the hair follicles. Tight hairstyles like buns, dreadlocks, hats, cornrows, and braids are the most common causes of traction hair loss in men.

While the man bun is an undeniable trend in recent years, it can cause thinning and hair loss. Typically, thinning occurs around the temples from repeated tugging and pulling. Fortunately, the condition is easily remedied when caught early. However, wearing tight hairstyles long term can cause irreversible damage in which scar tissue prohibits regrowth.

One study found that 2.3% of African males experience Traction Alopecia from wearing cornrows and dreadlocks. If you repeatedly wear headgear like bicycle helmets and hats, the condition can also arise. While the issue predominantly affects women, it can be equally as damaging to men. 


Tight hairstyles are the primary cause of Traction Alopecia in males, but any type of added pressure can cause the hair to break, thin and fall out, including:

  • Dreadlock, cornrows, braids, buns, tight ponytails.
  • Tight headgear or accessories (hats, helmets, beanies)
  • Long, heavy hair that pulls at the follicles
  • The beloved top knot man bun can cause Traction Alopecia if worn daily

TRACTION ALOPECIA signs & symptoms

Hair shedding is natural, but when accompanied by further symptoms, it may be a sign of male Traction Alopecia. 

Symptoms include:

  • Hair thinning around the hairline and temples
  • Scalp and follicular inflammation
  • Redness, itching, irritation, or soreness
  • Scalp ulcers, bumps or blisters
  • Baldness or balding patches
  • Eased discomfort after changing hairstyles
  • Headaches


Most traction and pulling hair loss cases are reversible, and it’s not always a medical issue. However, if the condition isn't addressed early on, it can develop into a more complex and damaging problem. A dermoscopy, which is a microscopic examination of the skin, can help diagnose any traction-related conditions. If you're unsure if your hair is thinning due to traction or another hair loss condition, your dermatologist can conduct a histopathology (microscopic tissue examination) to rule out Androgenetic (Hereditary) Alopecia. 

The two leading causes of mechanical hair loss are as follows:

Traction Alopecia
A hair loss condition caused by repeated pulling or tugging at the hair follicles caused by tight hairstyles. Once addressed, hair follicles should heal, and regrowth occurs within a few months.

A rare condition in which people impulsively pull out their hair from their scalp, eyelashes, or eyebrows. This aggressive pulling damages the hair follicles and can lead to irreversible damage.


If you catch Traction Alopecia early, you can reverse its effects by changing your hairstyle and habits. Your hairstyle may be rooted in your self-image, but it’s essential to prioritize your scalp health and opt for less harmful styles. Talk with your stylist about looser style options that maintain a strong sense of identity.


Hair follicles subjected to repeated strain must recover before hair regrowth can begin. While the process may take time and patience, it’s vital to stay consistent with alleviating follicle strain. 

What you can do:

  • Choose a no-fuss hairstyle that doesn’t tug at the follicles
  • Swap out elastic hair ties for fabric ties 
  • Wear a loose bun instead of a tight top bun
  • Change up your hairstyle every week to give your follicles a break
  • Avoid tight hairstyles altogether
  • Use low-maintenance soothing oils or root securing treatments to replenish sensitive follicles
  • Stock up on protein, iron and essential nutrients, which are vital foods for your follicles
  • Consult with your dermatologist about the best treatment plan
  • Ask your hairstylist for loose styling suggestions

Fortunately, many popular men’s hairstyles are loose and short. However, if mechanical pulling has caused irreversible damage to your follicles, you can seek further treatment. Minoxidil is a topical treatment that can strengthen existing hairs for moderate cases of Traction Alopecia. A more intensive solution is a follicular hair transplant, which can replenish bald patches with natural hair follicles.Your hair is tough, but it can only endure minimal pulling. Retain strong hair and self-image with powerful solutions that work for you.


René Wig

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