Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Preventing Traction Alopecia
Traction alopecia is quite common in African communities throughout the world, that have been highly influenced by slavery or colonialism. It is an attempt to make our coiled hair appear straight; we often use the term neat. The obvious inference is that our natural coils are wild, and untidy. That is why I named this blog the wild haired mavens. Traction alopecia is a cultural passive maiming of our bodies in order to achieve an elusive standard of beauty. Neatness is often the driver of using too much tension, repeatedly brushing, rubbing or irritating our edges into oblivion.
It is my opinion that we may not know when we are causing traction alopecia. I think people expect their hair to fall out when they braid or weave too tight, and if it doesn't fall out right away, then they think it is ok. Folks don't even consider that they brush or rub their edges away. Some moms rubbed their baby girls edges away in attempt to keep the hair tidy. What about glue, people forget that glue is a counter irritant, therefore you could irritate your edges away from repeated use of glue, relaxer or even gel.
We never see clumps of hair fall out, there is no extra hair shed. The follicles shed in the normal time frame and are not replaced. So there is no warning of traction alopecia besides minor irritation. Of course we are all aware of the pain of tight weaves, wigs or braids. We know that causes baldness, but I want to warn of the subtle irritant alopecia, because it can be permanent.
Our bodies are so patient with us, we think we are getting away with irritating our bodies, then we wake up bald. Or our cute bald two year is now ten, and still bald. Let's quit playing russian roulette with our bodies, and start accepting ourselves a little closer to how we are. Even with a relaxer, the edges of the hair are going to show our natural texture. There is no way to completely escape our genetic predisposition.
This is my take away. Our hair is not going to fall out as soon as we abuse it. You didn't get away with it, there is at least one dead follicle as a result of the behavior. Each hair will live out it's normal life span, and silently shed. It takes a long time to lose enough hair to create a bald spot. So by the time we see it, we have been maiming ourselves for a long time. That long time varies by each person. Our follicles aren't going to wave a white flag and say 'ya got me' before they die. they are just going to get tired of hurting, and slowly fade away. So just stop the constant brushing, toothbrushing the edges in the bathroom, tight ponytails, and scalp ripping braids right now, before there is little we can do. It ain't-cute-no more! We are the cause and the cure of Traction alopecia.
By the way, if you have alopecia read my other blogs on how I encouraged some of my follicles to grow back.
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