Can Traction Alopecia Be Reversed? Here's Everything You Need To Know

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated

You might recall the tight hairstyles synonymous with dance classes and cheerleading squads as a child.

These high-tension hairstyles, from ballerina buns and tight braids to towering ponytails, were part of the experience, though they frequently came with headaches and sore scalps.

At the time, these minor irritations seemed little more than a nuisance.

However, these seemingly innocuous hairstyles, known as traction alopecia, can cause more insidious damage over the very long hair - term.

The thinning of hair, particularly around the hairline and crown, is a classic sign of this condition. The damage is incredibly profound as we age, with our hair becoming more vulnerable. 

The good news, however, is that traction alopecia is preventable and, in some cases, reversible.

This article explores hairstyles that can contribute to traction alopecia reversible or to hair loss and presents protective styles to combat traction alopecia.[[textbox]]


Traction alopecia is reversible, provided it is addressed promptly.

By discontinuing tight hairstyles that put undue stress on your hair follicles, you can foster a healthy environment for your hair to regrow naturally. 

However, it's critical to remember that persistent tension in your hair can lead to permanent damage.

Therefore, timely intervention and adopting hair-friendly habits of wearing your hair down are essential to successfully combating and reversing traction alopecia.


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What is traction alopecia?

can traction alopecia be reversed

Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss caused by prolonged tension or pulling on the hair. This often occurs due to tight hairstyles, such as ponytails, buns, or braids, that stress the hair follicles.

Over time, this tension can lead to damage, resulting in thinning hair or hair loss, typically around the hairline or crown. However, it's a condition that's both preventable and, in some cases, reversible.

What causes traction alopecia?

permanent hair loss

There are numerous practices that can cause traction alopecia, most of which revolve around how you handle and style your hair. 

Here are some contributing factors that lead to traction alopecia:

  • Constant use of tension-inducing hairstyles: If you consistently wear hairstyles that pull on your hair, such as weaves, cornrows, braids, and tight ponytails, this can place continuous stress on the hair follicles. 
  • Regular usage of certain hair accessories: Hair accessories like headbands, clips, hairpins, and hair rollers can inadvertently stress your hair if used frequently and tightly. When too tight or worn for long durations, these accessories can cause similar damage to the hair follicles.
  • Wearing tight headgear and helmets for extended periods: Like tight hairstyles, snug headgear and helmets can exert pressure on the scalp and pull the hair. Regular and prolonged use can cause strain on the hair follicles, leading to traction alopecia.
  • Aggressive hair handling: Vigorous combing or brushing of your hair can also damage the hair follicles, leading to hair thinning and loss over time.
  • Long and heavy hair: If you have very long and heavy locks, the sheer weight of your hair can exert a pulling effect on your follicles. This constant tension can, over time, lead to traction alopecia.
  • Tightly twisting the beard: In men, a habit of tightly twisting or pulling the beard can cause similar stress on the hair follicles, leading to traction alopecia of the beard.
  • Compulsive hair pulling: Also known as trichotillomania, this is a psychological condition in which individuals are repeatedly pulling out their own hair. Over time, this can result in traction alopecia due to the constant tension on the follicles.

What are the symptoms of traction alopecia?

hair pulled, hair follicle

Traction alopecia, in its initial stages, may present as small bumps on your scalp resembling pimples. As the condition advances, the primary symptom becomes more apparent: hair loss and breakage.

This is most often observed along the front and sides of your scalp, mostly in African American women, although depending on your hairstyle, you might also see hair loss in other regions.

Apart from hair loss, traction alopecia may induce several additional symptoms, including:

  • Scalp redness: The continuous pull and tension on your hair follicles can lead to inflammation, which may result in a reddened scalp.
  • Bumps: As mentioned earlier, small pimple-like little bumps on the scalp can be one of the earliest signs of traction alopecia.
  • Scalp soreness or stinging: The tension from tight hairstyles could cause your scalp to become tender and sore. You may also experience a stinging sensation, particularly when touching or moving the hair.
  • Itching: Inflammation of the scalp can often lead to an itchy sensation. This is the body's response to the irritation that the tension on the hair follicles has caused.
  • Scaling: In some cases, you may notice flaky, dry skin or scaling on the scalp, similar to dandruff.
  • Folliculitis: This refers to inflammation of the hair follicles. It can cause discomfort and appear as red and swollen bumps around hair follicles.
  • Pus-filled blisters: In severe cases, traction alopecia can result in pus-filled blisters on your scalp. 

Over time, if not addressed, the hair follicles could suffer such extensive damage and scarring that they lose the ability to produce new hair.

It's important to note that traction alopecia symptoms differ from other alopecia types. Typically, in other forms of alopecia, hair loss happens in patches across the scalp.

However, in traction alopecia, hair loss generally affects the areas where the hair has been subjected to constant pulling and tension.

Can traction alopecia be reversed?

Yes, you develop traction alopecia which can often be reversed if caught and treated early. The key to reversing traction alopecia is identifying and eliminating the source of tension in the hair. This usually means discontinuing tight hairstyles, hair extensions, and certain hair accessories that pull on the hair. By relieving the strain, you can give your hair follicles a chance to recover and repair themselves.

However, the ability to reverse traction alopecia depends on the severity of the condition. In the early stages, when the hair follicles are still relatively healthy and just strained, eliminating the source of tension should allow the follicles to recover and the hair to regrow. 

It's essential to keep in mind that hair regrowth takes time, and you might need to be patient for several months to notice hair loss improvements.

In cases where traction alopecia has been allowed to progress for longer, the constant tension may cause more significant damage to the hair follicles. 

If the follicles have become severely scarred, they might lose their ability to produce new hair, and the hair loss could be permanent. 

Medical treatments or surgical interventions such as hair transplants might be considered. 

As always, it's best to consult a healthcare or hair care professional to understand your options and create a tailored treatment plan.

How to treat traction alopecia?

Can traction alopecia be reversed in any other way? Of course yes! Have a look:

Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine

treat permanent traction alopecia

The 3-Step Hair Growth Routine by Scandinavian Biolabs is a set of products designed to nourish the hair and scalp.

One essential product in this routine is the Bio-Pilixin Serum.

The serum is clinically tested and aims to nourish the hair and scalp.

Each product in the 3-Step Routine boasts a selection of carefully chosen ingredients.

These include ingredients like Capilia longa, niacinamide, and aloe vera, which are chosen for their nourishing properties.

Additionally, an amino acid complex for bolstering hair shaft integrity; vanillyl butyl ether to promote blood flow to the hair follicles; and zinc PCA, which regulates sebum without skin irritation.

Quality and ethics underpin the manufacturing of these products. Each ingredient is not only scientifically backed but also 100% vegan and predominantly inspired by nature.

Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Formulated to combat thinning hair & visible scalp


Minoxidil, similar to melatonin for hair growth, is a topical treatment administered directly to the scalp.

Since it doesn't require a prescription, this Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication is easily accessible. It is readily available in liquid and foam formulations, making it convenient for users.

While the exact mechanisms by which minoxidil promotes hair growth remain mysterious, the prevailing theory suggests it increases blood flow to stimulate hair follicles, nudging them into the anagen phase, the active growth stage of the hair cycle. 


Finasteride is a prescription-only medication commonly employed to boost hair growth and combat male pattern baldness.

The workings of this drug in promoting hair growth are well understood.

Finasteride operates by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone).

Limiting DHT production helps slow down and even reverse the process of hair thinning and loss.

The medication is typically consumed daily in tablet form

Adjust your hairstyling habits 

If you're experiencing traction alopecia symptoms, avoiding hairstyles that pull tightly on your hair is essential. If you must tie your hair, ensure it's loosely secured.

Give your hair regular breaks from hair clips, hair ties, or any hair accessories that apply pressure.

Switch up your hairstyle every few days to prevent excessive tension in any scalp region.

Minimize the use of chemicals. 

It's advisable to reduce the use of harsh chemicals on already damaged hair, as they could further exacerbate the condition.

Opt for natural, plant-based hair products or home remedies instead. These alternatives not only offer promising results, but they also protect your hair from potential chemical damage.

Tips for preventing traction alopecia

Can alopecia be reversed

Here are some additional tips for preventing traction alopecia:

  • Opt for a loosely styled ponytail, braid, or bun to minimise tension on your hair follicles.
  • Rotate your hairstyles every week. If you have braided your hair for one week, let your hair loose and flow freely the following week.
  • Refrain from sleeping with hair rollers, which can apply undue tension to your hair overnight.
  • Limit the frequent and prolonged use of weaves or extensions. Ensure to take breaks between each period of usage.
  • Steer clear of hair relaxers, which can weaken hair and increase susceptibility to damage.
  • Avoid using elastic or rubber bands to secure your ponytail, as these can cause excessive pulling and strain on your hair.
  • Minimise chemical treatments, which can lead to increased hair fragility and breakage.
  • Be gentle when combing your hair, especially when it's wet. Use a wide-toothed comb and limit brushing to two or three times daily.
  • Avoid heat styling with devices such as blow dryers and flat irons, which can damage your hair over time.
  • If you wear a wig, consider using a satin wig cap to provide a smoother surface that minimises hair pull and friction.

Home remedies for traction alopecia

Protein-rich diet

Protein is crucial for hair growth. Include protein-rich foods like eggs, fish, nuts, beans, lean meats, and seeds. The required protein intake varies based on individual muscle mass and physical activity.

Iron intake

Enhance your iron intake to support hair growth. Include iron-rich foods like lentils, tofu, seeds, pumpkin, spinach, and white beans.

Certain foods, like breakfast cereals, are often fortified with vitamins and iron to combat deficiency.


Essential oils like cedarwood, thyme, lavender, tulsi, and rosemary can stimulate hair growth and help address traction alopecia.

Always dilute essential oils in a base oil, like coconut oil, and conduct a patch test for allergic reactions before full-scale use.

Scalp Massage

Massaging your scalp stimulates blood flow to the follicles, fostering hair growth. A daily four-minute scalp massage can result in thicker hair over several months.

Pumpkin Seed Oil

Research suggests that pumpkin seed oil can enhance hair growth. A study showed a 40% increase in hair count for men who consumed 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil daily over six months.

Gentle hairstyles for traction alopecia

traction alopecia hairstyle

The following are some gentle hairstyles for traction alopecia:

  • Loose ponytail: This classic style keeps hair off your face without adding too much tension. Ensure the band is not tied too tight.
  • Natural waves or curls: Allow your hair to dry naturally whenever possible. If you have natural waves or curls, let them flow freely to avoid any tension.
  • Side parts: A side part can reduce the strain on your hairline. Rotate the part regularly to prevent stress in any one area.
  • Low bun: A low, hair-loose bun at the nape of your neck is a stylish and gentle way to keep your hair up.
  • Loose braids: A loose braid is a comfortable, low-tension style. Avoid braiding at the hairline, where hair can be more fragile.
  • Clips and barrettes: Used gently, clips and barrettes can be used to loosely gather hair to the side or back without creating tension.
  • Half-up, half-down style: This style allows you to keep some hair up and some down, reducing the weight and stress on your scalp.
  • Using headbands: Soft, flexible headbands can keep your hair away from your face without pulling too much.

How long does it take for the hair to grow back?

The timeline for hair regrowth after traction alopecia can vary, but typically it can take several months to a year to regrow hair. This depends on the severity of the hair loss and the steps taken to reduce tension and support hair growth. If the hair follicles aren't permanently damaged, the hair should start to grow back once the cause of the stress is eliminated.


Traction alopecia is reversible, provided it is addressed promptly.

By discontinuing tight hairstyles that put undue stress on your hair follicles, you can foster a healthy environment for your hair to regrow naturally. 

However, it's critical to remember that persistent tension in your hair can lead to permanent damage.

Therefore, timely intervention and adopting hair-friendly habits of wearing your hair down are essential to successfully combating and reversing traction alopecia.



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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.