It’s so convenient to pull your hair back into a ponytail. Some people claim that wearing a tight ponytail too often leads to baldness. Is this an old wives’ tale?
It’s so quick and easy to pull your hair into a ponytail. It’s out of the way, and you don’t have to worry about it falling in your face. But some people say that wearing a tight ponytail increases your risk of baldness. Is there any truth to this idea?
Do Tight Ponytails Cause Baldness?
Unfortunately, this is one of those old wives’ tales that has some truth behind it. Wearing tight ponytails causes a condition called traction alopecia, which is a fancy term for hair loss due to pulling forces. Whether you pull your hair back tightly into a ponytail with a rubber band or a hair barrette, you put stress on the roots of the hair, which can lead to hair loss over time.
It’s not just tight ponytails that cause traction alopecia. Wearing your hair in braids, cornrows or dreadlocks creates the same kind of tension that can lead to hair loss.
With traction alopecia, hair loss usually occurs along the sides of the face and forehead. It’s especially common among African-Americans who wear their hair in tight braids. Ballerinas and athletes who pull their hair back tightly into a ponytail or bun are also at higher risk.
Wearing a Tight Ponytail Causes Hair Breakage Too
Wearing a tight ponytail not only leads to traction alopecia, it can cause hair breakage around the area where the band is placed. This is especially true if you use a rubber band that’s not coated to reduce stress on the hair. If you pull the hair back too tightly, you could end up with a “layer” in the back of you hair that you didn’t plan on.
How to Prevent Traction Alopecia
Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail, braids or a bun every day, and when you do, pull it back loosely with a roomy clip. Never sleep with a band or clip in your hair. Let your hair go free at night. If you have chemically-treated hair, avoid wearing buns, braids or ponytails entirely since your hair is weaker than virgin hair.
Does Wearing a Tight Ponytail Cause Baldness: The Bottom Line?
Not only can it cause patchy baldness, it can cause hair breakage too. Be judicious with how and when you wear a tight ponytail or bun.
EMedicine.com. “Scarring Alopecia”