Women’s Health

Are Your Braids and Weaves Causing Health Issues?

Written by Jessie Kimani

Protective hairstyles such as braids, twists, and weaves are a great way to switch up your hairstyle when taking a break from everyday natural hair styling. While it is okay to experiment with different hairstyles, tight braids, and weave styling methods may be causing your hair and scalp serious damage that can lead to hair loss.  This article will explore how braids and weaves may cause hair loss and measures you can take to prevent it.

How Do Braids/Weaves Cause Hair Loss?

Traction alopecia is the most common form of hair loss among black women. It occurs as a result of wearing hair extensions, weaves, and braids that are too tight to the scalp. If hair is pulled back too tightly, it can break away from its roots, leading to hair weakness, splitting, and even follicle damage.

Braids and weaves that are too tight can also lead to tensile stress. This occurs when there is excessive or constant pulling on hair follicles. These aggressive types of hairstyles can cause severe damage to your hair depending on how tight or heavy they are.  Too much stress on the hair follicle makes it weaken and can cause hair damage.

Wearing tight braids and weaves for a long period can lead to serious hair loss conditions such as traction alopecia. In addition, prolonged pulling of hair strands can cause inflammation of the hair follicle. This may lead to scarring hair loss, which is also known as central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia.

Signs and Symptoms of Traction Alopecia

Hair loss in the temple, hairline, and around the ears are the most common signs of traction alopecia. However, in the early stages of traction alopecia, there are some signs you can identify. Here are some early signs and symptoms of traction alopecia.

  1. Bumps or crusting

Depending on the protective hairstyle you use, you may notice little bumps on your scalp and broken hair.  Bumps along the point of tension on the hair usually the front and the sides of the scalp can be a sign that your hair could be coming out. You may also notice sores or crusts forming on the scalp.

  • Redness

Another early warning sign of traction alopecia is redness in the scalp or around your edges, which may indicate that your hairstyle is too tight. Redness can be a sign that hair follicles are irritated due the increased scalp tension.

  • Pain

Your protective hairstyles should be painless. If you experience pain or soreness within hours of wearing a hairstyle it could be a sign your hair is too tight and your scalp is inflamed. Prolonged use of tight hairstyles may lead to damage and permanent hair loss.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Itching scalp
  • Pus-filled blisters, usually painful
  • Hair casts

How To Prevent Hair Damage from Braids/Weaves

Once you notice some early signs of traction alopecia such as small bumps on the scalp or broken hairs, you should take some measures to avoid further damage. The following are tips to help prevent hair damage or hair loss from braids and weaves.

  1. Avoid Tight Hairstyles

Tight hairstyles cause too much tension to your scalp as a result of repeated hair pulling from styles like braids, locks, and weaves. If you have to wear braids or weaves, ensure you wear them loosely. If you like braiding your hair, try as much as possible to go for thicker braids as they do not pull hair as much as thin braids.

  • Change Your Hairstyle Often

Changing your hairstyle now and then is important. You minimize the repeated forceful pulling of the hair in a specific region on your scalp when you alternate hairstyles. For instance, if you wear braids for 2 weeks, you may want to consider wearing your natural hair down next before braiding or weaving your hair immediately.

  • Talk to Your Stylist

Communicating with your hairstylist is also crucial. Do not be afraid to confront your stylist if the style feels too tight.  If you feel pain or feel the hairstyle is too tight ask your stylist to loosen the affected area. This can go a long way in preventing hair loss in the long run.

  • Give Your Hair A Break

Giving your hair a break from repeated hairstyles is essential in preventing traction alopecia. Consider taking a break from braids to allow your hair to rest and recover from tension.

  • Take Care of Natural Hair

While braids and weaves are great protective natural hair styling methods, it is also important to take care of your hair. Before getting braids or extensions make sure your hair is clean and moisturized. Follow a hair care routine that promotes healthy hair during and in between wearing protective styles.

Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss that occurs due to continuous hair pulling in the roots by certain hairstyles like braids, weaves, and buns. When noticed early, traction alopecia is reversible. However, when left unnoticed, it can cause permanent hair loss.

You can adopt certain behavioral changes to help prevent more damage. These changes include making changes in your hairstyle choices, taking a break from tight hairstyles, and taking care of your hair. Nevertheless, if you suspect you may be experiencing traction alopecia it is best to seek help from a specialist.

About the author

Jessie Kimani

Jess is a dedicated natural hair enthusiast, stylist, and writer. From tips on how to style your curls to product recommendations, she is your go-to source for all things natural hair care. She is passionate about helping women embrace their natural beauty; a firm believer that every woman should feel confident and beautiful in their natural hair.

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