Dealing with Hair Loss in African-American Women

In a recent survey of almost 6,000 black women, almost half reported hair loss on the crown or top of their scalp. That’s a big number.

Hair loss in African-American women is a common issue and one that has been difficult to deal with for quite some time. We see many coming into our practice for the same reason, and unfortunately there is no one fix to cure them all. Some hair loss situations can be attributed to genetics, while for others, it could be a more serious medical condition.

In this study, the top cause of hair loss was centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), where inflammation and destruction of the hair follicle can cause scarring and hair loss. In addition, female pattern baldness and traction alopecia - caused by pull the hair too tight when braided - are also significant contributing factors.

I am pleased to note that over time, women have been moving away from braiding and are more accepting of keeping their hair loose and natural. They may have learned the hard way that years of chemical treatments and braiding were contributing to hair loss and abstaining from them would have been much healthier. However, I still encounter a lot of situations where parents will bring their kids in with hair loss - and while the most common reason would be a fungus, it has also been due to very tight braids.

In conclusion, parents moving forward have the benefit of knowing the effects of all these factors on their kid’s hair. I would urge them to be aware of braiding hair loosely, allowing hair to grow more naturally and ensuring that their hair is styled in a way that doesn’t require pulling or tugging, in order to avoid this in the future.

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