Hair treatments have been around for thousands of years. Around the world, men have joined women in using hair sprays, mousse, gels, hair dyes, leave-in conditioners and various enhancers and therapies. As humans, things always look greener on the other side . . . so, straight-haired individuals want curls, while curly-haired ones want to straighten. While each of the products out there provides various short-term benefits, they can also cause damage to hair strands or even cause hair loss, if over-used. Whatever your reason or technique, it’s worth taking the time to look into exactly what may be happening with the use of hair treatments.
Engaging in any over processing of the hair can result in temporary or permanent hair loss. Hair dyes are the top culprits in temporary damaging hair. Styling techniques that call for permanent hair dyes, bleaches, or straighteners can disturb the keratin structure that contains proteins needed for healthy hair. If overdone, the hair becomes fragile and falls out with combing and brushing.
If using perms, a person will probably end up with wonderfully shining curly hair, but can end up with hair loss if the hair was in a damaged condition before application. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all salon practitioners are created equal. Often, hair loss happens when the solution is badly mixed, made too strong, or has been left on the hair too long.
Overcoming all the conditions mentioned above will require some effort. First, discontinuing the use of the bad products and procedures is important. Following this, it’s imperative that the affected person consults a certified hair professional.
Hair loss can also be caused by a condition called traction alopecia, the constant pulling of hair from the scalp. This condition is prevalent in African American women due to their popular hair styles, but can affect anyone using any hair style that requires constant strain. Most often this strain occurs on the follicle and especially the dermal papilla (See Hair follicle Anatomy in Chapter 2).
Women’s hair styles known to cause this condition are tight braids, especially “corn rows” since they cause hair tension and pulling. It can also occur in men who use hair weaving to cover up bald spots. Pony tails are another culprit. Sikh men of India and Japanese women also suffer due to the styles they wear. Due to this issue, a number of young women around the world experience hair loss as early as 19 years-of-age.
Fortunately, this condition is reversible if caught in time. The key to reversing the process lies in early detection and discontinuing the style and/or hair treatment methods which cause the problem. Looser, gentler styles are called for. Sadly, there are no medications available to treat late-stage traction alopecia. The only solution for women is surgical hair restoration and people with this condition are good candidates for such restoration, so long as they haven’t damaged their donor hair (which is not uncommon).