Does My Ponytail Cause Hair Loss?

Have you ever removed your scrunchie only to have a considerable amount of hair strands come out with it? The feeling of panic that ensues may be for nothing; after all, it’s common to lose anywhere from 80-100 hair strands a day. The strands attached to your scrunchie could be from normal, everyday hair shedding. Or it could be due to something much scarier, like Traction Alopecia. 

What is Traction Alopecia?

What is traction alopecia - ponytail womanWhat is traction alopecia - ponytail woman


Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss that occurs when hair is continually pulled taut due to tight hairstyles. On top of wearing hair in tight up-dos, traction alopecia is more likely to occur if hair has been treated with chemicals or heat styled on a regular basis. Traction alopecia differs from other forms of alopecia, such as alopecia areata, which is a form of autoimmune disorder. 


Besides hair loss, other symptoms of traction alopecia include itching, soreness, scaling, redness, and inflammation of the hair follicles (also known as folliculitis). In more severe cases, you may even notice pus-filled blisters appearing on your scalp. Click here to learn more about traction alopecia.

Do Ponytails Cause Traction Alopecia?

Do ponytails cause traction alopecia?Do ponytails cause traction alopecia?


If the majority of your weekly style choices include these tight up-dos, this may be the intervention you need. While these styles are flattering and pose no issues when worn sometimes, wearing your hair up in a tight ponytail everyday can leave you in a world of pain, both physically and emotionally. 


In other words, yes—your ponytail can cause hair loss. Any hairstyle that places too much tension on your hair and scalp can cause traction alopecia. This includes tight buns, ponytails, braids, and cornrows. If you love wearing your hair in tight, pulled up hairstyles, we recommend allowing your scalp and hair follicles to relax afterwards to prevent traction alopecia and hair loss. For example, if you wear your hair in a tight hairstyle one day, wear it down or in a loose style the next, and so on. Avoid wearing your hair in tight ponytails everyday or multiple days in a row.

Can the Damage be Reversed?

Is ponytail hair loss reversible?Is ponytail hair loss reversible?


Thankfully, hair loss, thinning, and recession caused by traction alopecia and too-tight ponytails is often reversible, especially if it is caught early. If the amount of hair loss is not too severe, simply wearing your hair down or in a loose hairstyle gives your scalp a chance to heal.  


Traction alopecia that is not properly managed can, unfortunately, lead to scarring of the hair follicle. If the hair follicle reaches this level of damage, new hair growth cannot occur, causing a permanent bald area.

Treatments for Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia treatments - medicated shampooTraction alopecia treatments - medicated shampoo


Start by scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist. There are several treatment options for traction alopecia depending on the amount and severity of your hair loss. For less severe cases, prescribed treatments may be:


  • Antifungal shampoos
  • Minoxidil (the main ingredient in Rogaine)
  • Biotin supplements
  • Steroids (topical)
  • Antibiotics (only if open sores are present)


In more severe cases with scarring, your dermatologist may recommend hair replacement procedures. Additionally, eating a healthy diet may also help your hair to grow back.

How to Hide Hair Loss


If you have experienced hair loss, there are several things you can do to disguise it while your hair is growing back:



Wearing your hair in tight up-dos on the regular can lead to temporary or permanent hair loss, also known as traction alopecia. To stop traction alopecia before hitting the point of no return, limit the days you wear your hair in these styles or ask your doctor for treatment options. What are your thoughts on traction alopecia? Tell us in the comments section below!