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‘Can Children Get Traction Alopecia from Tight Hairstyles?’

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Name: Erika

Question: I read about Kim Kardashian putting her daughter’s hair in tight buns all the time and it giving her headaches. As a woman with afro hair who has experienced traction alopecia in the past I worry about this with my own child’s hair. Can children get traction alopecia? Like North West, my daughter also takes ballet lessons and needs to keep her hair out of her face then and also for school. Do you have any advice as to hairstyles which are kind to afro hair, particularly for children? Many thanks.

Can Children Have Hair Loss from Traction Alopecia?Answer: Hi, Erika. Yes – as with adults who wear their hair in tight hairstyles too often, children who frequently wear their hair in styles that can cause excessive tension on the follicles are also at risk of Traction Alopecia.

Just as you mention with Kim Kardashian’s daughter, North West, if your daughter complains of headaches, check her hairstyle to ensure it is not too tight as this can be a warning sign of Traction Alopecia.

Hairstyles most likely to cause hair loss in children include taut braids, cornrows or buns, as well as high ponytails which have been securely too tightly.

Other styles which are kinder, particularly for children with afro hair as this is naturally more dry and brittle so more prone to breakage, include wearing the hair loose and natural, using an alice band to keep the hair pushed back from the face, and loosely-tied ponytails – full or half-up, half-down – or bunches. Ideally these should be secured with soft hair ties such as scrunchies or other gentle, fabric-covered designs in order to minimise any damage to the hair.

Of course it is fine to wear tighter hairstyles on occasion – such as a bun for ballet class – but putting it in before her lesson and taking it out again afterwards in order to let the scalp relax in between will give the hair a better chance of staying healthy and avoiding any unnecessary hair loss.

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