Traction Alopecia is a commonly-seen form of hair loss, and occurs when people choose hairstyles that put prolonged, excessive strain on the hair shaft. But a new technology that could be commercially available as early as next year aims to give the scalp a chance to fight back.
According to a news release from American hair care company Daniel Alain, they have acquired the intellectual property rights to the new technology from a biotech incubator named Applied Biology, whose focus is on novel dermatological therapies.
Inducing goosebumps to prevent hair loss
Applied Biology’s founder, Professor Andy Goren, had been specifically looking for new treatments for Traction Alopecia, which occurs most often when people wear tight hairstyles such as braids or cornrows, or hair extensions. During his research, he found that the small muscle holding each hair had a tendency to hold onto hair with more force when it was contracted. It’s something he observed when studying hair in goosebumps: trying to pull hair from a goosebump requires “much more force” than when the skin is smooth.
Working with these findings, the professor set about creating a technique that would lead to less shedding during styling procedures.
Exactly what the end result will be remains to be seen, but Daniel Alain say they hope to have a product or products on the market in the first half of 2017.
It should be noted that in their media release Daniel Alain make no mention of specific hairstyles; rather they state that they have acquired intellectual property rights for “a revolutionary patented technology that reduces the amount of hair that is shed during washing and styling” and, later, that Traction Alopecia is “a form of hair loss acquired by applying forces that pull on hair follicles such as when hair brushing or flat ironing.”
While it is true that hair can be lost in this way, the majority of clients who visit Belgravia with Traction Alopecia have subjected their hair to a rather more punishing regime – typically a very tight hairstyle worn for a long time that places unrelenting strain on the roots of the hair. It is this weakening of the hair shaft that leads to hair loss around the hairline and temples, as this bears the brunt of the strain, and often in patches around where the hairstyle is fixed.
Using flat irons, or ‘hair straighteners’, is more commonly a cause of hair breakage due to the intense levels of heat applied directly to the hair. This kind of heat-styling damage can occur with or without Traction Alopecia also being present, so whatever Daniel Alain plans to bring to market to address these issues, if effective, is likely to be welcomed if it reduces styling damage in any way.
Says Leonora Doclis, senior hair loss specialist at Belgravia: “This is a novel idea and it’s great to see a team inspired by natural biological actions – if scientists can somehow ‘induce’ goosebumps in a safe way and this, in turn, leads to hair follicles keeping a tighter grip on the shaft, it could turn out to be useful to anyone whose styling regime is causing them to lose hair. However, I’d be very surprised of this was able to avert the kind of severe Traction Alopecia that we see again and again on the heads of people who have opted for really tight hairstyles.”
There is already effective traction alopecia treatment available, and it is also the only hair loss condition that is completely avoidable. While other hair loss conditions are caused by such factors as genetics, stress and trauma, Traction Alopecia only ever occurs as a result of personal hairstyling choices.
Signs that your hairstyle could lead to hairloss include if is tight enough to cause discomfort or headaches, or if after wearing it consistently your hairline appears to be receding – even slightly. As soon as this happens, take your hair down and wear it naturally, with no extensions, wigs or hair elastics, to give the follicles a break. In mild cases of Traction Alopecia the hair may recover and start to regrow on its own but for more severe cases or where the hair loss has been developing over a number of months or even years, then expert help should be sought.
Belgravia’s experts find that using personalised treatment courses built around a cornerstone of high strength minoxidil – which is applied directly to the scalp in the affected areas – can have a significant impact. For this condition, as it is temporary, provided no other hair loss conditions are present and there is no further damage, treatment is only necessary until the follicles are back to normal and the lost hair has been regrown.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.