Articles, Loc Care & Styles

Traction Alopecia With Locs: What to Know Before It Is Too Late

woman with half of her head and locs showing. has necklace on. article is about traction alopecia with locs.

Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by repeated tension to your hair. This type of hair loss can cause bald spots, sensitive scalp, itching and other symptoms. For those with locs, you may also notice traction alopecia in the form of thinning locs. The good news about this type of alopecia is that there is something you can do about it if you tackle it early enough. Traction alopecia can cause permanent damage and as we age, the more likely we are to suffer from it. There are some general tips you may find online for all types of hair, but below are specific considerations you should keep in mind to prevent and treat traction alopecia with locs.

Retwisting Method

hands with yarn representing the incorrect way to interlock
Threading the top of the loc through the same triangle will separate the loc.

When it comes to retwisting new growth, don’t twist tightly or too frequently. Ideally, you should twist maximum once a month and use the interlock method to loc your hair. This will help to prevent traction alopecia with locs. The reason for this is that your hair tends to grow on average ½ inch per month. Thus, cutting down the retwisting will prevent you from pulling at the same hair growth as one or two weeks ago. Interlocking is your best retwist method for another reason. When you interlock your hair you reduce the tension in comparison to other methods like palm rolling. That method relies upon tightly twisting the hair at the scalp to get your hair to loc.

Don’t Loc Sensitive Areas

This is something you should consider before locing your hair, but even with mature locs you can still do something about it. Your crown tends to be a more sensitive part of your scalp. This is the top area stretching from ear to ear that has less hair per surface area on your head. This area of your scalp doesn’t tend to grow very long as well. Given all these reasons, you should avoid locing this area of your scalp. Instead, you can cut the hair to keep it very short or let the crown hair grow a bit and twist it around stronger existing locs. This is a similar type of reasoning for not locing sensitive areas of the scalp (and not just the crown).

Scalp sensitivity can be a precursor to hair loss in that area, so it’s best to leave small swathes of sensitive scalp unlocd. Similar to your crown, you can keep the area cut short or let it grow a bit and loosely twist it around an existing loc. If you already have locs on your crown and/or sensitive areas of your scalp, consider cutting those locs to prevent traction alopecia with locs.

Tensionless Hair Styles

Woman with curly locs sits on sofa wearing blue tea shirt
Having lightly braided locs let out for curls is one way to have a style without too much tension.

There are a lot of beautiful styles you can do with locs. However, some styles that work well for photos aren’t conducive for scalp health. In fact, repeatedly wearing some styles can cause traction alopecia with locs. What you should do instead is wear your hair down or lose ponytails more often. For loose ponytails, I’d recommend using a hair silk wrap or large ponytail in order to make sure you aren’t causing a lot of tension when attempting to get your hair in a ponytail. Another idea is to try to part your hair to a different side now and then, so you’re not always tugging your locs onto one side.

Reduce Hand In Hair Syndrome & Be Gentle With Locs

Even if you do mostly wear tensionless hair styles, you should remember to be protective of your locs. This means being careful of not tugging the hair and getting it stuck in clips, etc. Even if you are gentle with your locs, remember that pulling and tugging at locs increases traction alopecia, and that inevitably happens if you are constantly touching your locs. It can be really difficult to keep your hands out of your hair. However, you need to try for the sake of keeping your scalp and locs healthy. Continuously touching your locs is another form of tension on the scalp, which can cause traction alopecia with locs. Therefore, try to limit touching your locs to just care and styling time. Read this article and hand in hair syndrome and what to do about it if you struggle with this. 

Cutting Locs

You read this heading correctly. If you have traction alopecia you might want to consider cutting your locs. For those with very long locs, you can consider cutting your locs to a shorter length to prevent the tension from hanging locs. If your hair loss is severe you may want to consider cutting your locs. However, before cutting off all your locs, try going to a medical professional to be examined. There are other causes of hair loss/thinning that may not relate to transaction alopecia and/or having locs.

Thanks as always for stopping by and I hope these tips were helpful. Remember, even if you don’t currently have signs of traction alopecia with locs, it doesn’t mean your current routine won’t cause it. The best approach is prevention, so you should try as early as possible to get your locs on a tensionless routine. This will keep your locs looking their fullest and your scalp feeling it’s healthiest.

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