The American Academy of Dermatology expert, Dr Yolanda Lenzy, (MD, FAAD, clinical associate, University of Connecticut) partnered with the Black Women’s Health Study at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center to survey African-American women about their experiences with hair loss. Of the 5,594 women who had completed the survey, 47.6 % reported hair loss on the crown or top of the scalp.
Hair Loss in African-American women
According to Dr. Lenzy, the No. 1 cause of hair loss in African-American women is a condition called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA). CCCA is a disorder in which inflammation and destruction of hair follicles. This causes scarring and permanent hair loss. Traction alopecia is another type of hair loss that is also common. It occurs due to styles that pull the hair too tight.
Dr. Lenzy and other experts also suggest that genetic predisposition may also be a major factor in hair loss among African-American women. Additionally, frequently engaging in damaging hair styling practices can increase the risk of hair loss . Examples are braiding, weaves and chemical relaxing.
“When hair loss is caused by styling practices, the problem is usually chronic use,” she says. “Women who use these styling practices tend to use them repeatedly, and long-term repeated use can result in hair loss.”
A major issue
According to the survey, many women do not see a doctor for their hair loss problem. Some are not aware that they should visit a dermatologist for evaluation. Others do not recognize or dismiss the early signs of hair loss. Moreover, while 40.9 percent of the survey respondents reported a level of hair loss consistent with CCCA, only 8.8 percent said a doctor had diagnosed them with this condition.
Identifying the signs and taking action
Early signs of hair loss can include:
- patches of hair that don’t grow back
- overall decreasing hair volume or density
- thinner ponytail.
Additionally, Dr Lenzy says, the inflammation caused by CCCA can lead to scalp itching and tingling. Women sometimes dismiss these symptoms as unimportant.
Women who believe they are experiencing hair loss should visit a board-certified dermatologist, who has the expertise to diagnose and treat hair disorders. Treatment options for hair loss may include topical corticosteroids or oral antibiotics to reduce inflammation, and minoxidil to promote regrowth.
Dr. Lenzy says women also can manage hair loss or reduce their risk by avoiding tight hair styles that put tension on the follicles, like braids and weaves, and limiting their use of chemical relaxers. Everyone who utilizes these styling practices should do so infrequently and for short periods of time, she says, and this is especially true for women experiencing hair loss.
The above post is sourced from American Academy of Dermatology and edited for format, length and content.