*Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they can confirm a “strong association” between common African-American hairstyles and the development of traction Alopecia, which is the gradual loss of hair loss caused by damage to the hair follicle.

Prolonged tension on the hair root can trigger the loss of hair. An estimated one-third of African-American women suffer from traction alopecia, making it the most common form of hair loss among that group.

In a report on their analysis, dermatologists are urged to better educate themselves about damaging hairstyles such as tight ponytails, braids, knots and buns, and are encouraged to advise patients of risks and alternatives.

“Hair is a cornerstone of self-esteem and identity for many people,” says Crystal Aguh, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “but ironically, some hairstyles meant to improve our self-confidence actually lead to hair and scalp damage.” Traction alopecia, she adds, is entirely preventable, and early intervention can stop or reverse it. ”We have to do better as care providers to offer our patients proper guidance to keep them healthy from head to toe,” she says.