Research shows a rise in balding among women, and it is thought to be driven, at least in part, by the type of hairstyles women choose.
According to researchers from John Hopkins University, women who pull their hair back tightly into hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks, weaves, tight ponytails and extensions, may be accelerating hair loss.
Crystal Aguh, assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggest that “while hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people, some hairstyles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage.”
Fortunately, the condition could be entirely preventable with treatments available if patients start on a plan early.
Traction alopecia, or hair loss due to tension at the hair root, was found to be made more common by hairstyles marked by stretching of the hair as seen with hair extensions and chemical hair straightening. This type of hair loss is most common among African-American women, affecting roughly one-third of the demographic.
Researchers determined that chemical straightening of hair increases the damage caused by these hairstyles by weakening the hair shaft, which can result in breaking. Use of heat to straighten hair, such as blow drying and the use of flat irons, also weakens hair, leading to thinning and balding, as well as extensions, especially those in which adhesive is applied directly to the scalp. Researchers advised that weaves and extensions should only be worn for six to eight weeks, and braids should be loosened after two to three months.
Another form of hairstyle that increases the risk of hair damage and loss is the frequent wearing of wigs or even wig caps. However, caps made of satin may be better on hair than such pieces made from nylon or cotton.
Studies show that people who wear their hair in a naturally relaxed state, or gathered together into loose buns or updos, were found to be least at risk for hair loss while untreated hair was found to be better at sustaining the damage done to it during styling.