Noticing more hair in the drain lately? Dealing with hair loss is one of the most emotional experiences people face. Have you thought about whether your hairstyle could be contributing to your loss of hair?
A review by Johns Hopkins researchers analyzed 19 studies about how hairstyle affects hair loss. They divided the hairstyles into three categories: high, medium and low-risk based on “the degree to which follicles are exposed to tension, weight, heat and hair-altering chemicals, such as straighteners,” wrote Johns Hopkins News.
1) Tightly binding your hair
Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that occurs from excessive pull on the hair root from hairstyles that tightly yank the hair away from the scalp.
Researchers found that hairstyles that involve cornrows, braids, dreadlocks and extensions fall into the high-risk group for traction alopecia if they are performed on chemically treated hair.
If chemical treatment is not used, these hairstyles fall into the moderate-risk group for traction alopecia.
Hair extensions, especially if glue is used to make them adhere to the scalp, can lead also to traction alopecia.
African Americans often wear these styles as they are low maintenance and chemical free, but the constant pulling can lead to traction alopecia.
“An estimated one-third of African-American women suffer from traction alopecia, making it the most common form of hair loss among that group,” noted Johns Hopkins News.
Even the pull from tight ponytails, tight buns, braids and knots can result in moderate risk for traction alopecia.
2) Chemical straightening and permanent wave treatments
Chemical straightening can weaken the hair shaft, which may lead to more hair breakage.
Permanent waves, where ammonium thioglycolate is used, may also damage the hair according to the researchers.
3) Wearing of wigs
Wig use was considered to be in the moderate risk group in the review. Wigs that use clips or adhesives to keep them from shifting can lead to significant breakage of hair.
Interestingly, researchers found that cotton or nylon wig caps were more likely to damage existing hair than satin ones.
4) Flat irons, curling irons and blow dryers
Excessive use of heat from these various styling tools can cause damage and may weaken hair leading to thinning. Significant hair loss may also occur if also used with traction hairstyles, the researchers determined.
5) Styling wet hair
Evaluating whether styling hair while wet was not part of the study, but the American Academy of Dermatology warns that styling wet hair can lead to stretching and hair breakage. The AAD suggest wrapping your hair up first using a towel to absorb the water or letting your hair air dry before styling.
View this video from the American Academy and Dermatology to learn more about how to care for your hair.
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s health care and quality of care issues.
Edited by Jody Smith
All Hairstyles are Not Created Equal. What dermatologists need to know about African-American hairstyling practices and the risk of traction alopecia. Retrieved May 29, 2016.
Haskin A, Aguh C. All hairstyles are not created equal: What the dermatologist needs to know about black hairstyling practices and the risk of traction alopecia (TA). J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016 Apr 21. pii: S0190-9622(16)01398-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2016.02.1162. [Epub ahead of print].
Your hair style may be causing hair damage and hair loss. American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved May 29, 2016.