It is no secret that hair loss is a pretty huge issue among African American women and many of us often wonder why is it that we are often singled out when hair loss affects everyone.
According to a new study presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s 74th Annual Meeting in Washington there is proof that almost half of all African American women surveyed have experienced hair loss at some point in their lives.
According to board-certified dermatologist Yolanda M. Lenzy, MD, FAAD, clinical associate, University of Connecticut, Farmington, Conn.
African-American women are prone to hair loss, and new data presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s 74th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. illustrates the scope of this problem, which often goes undiagnosed. Certain styling practices may increase the risk of hair loss in this population; women who are concerned about losing their hair should consider different styling practices and see a dermatologist if they notice any signs of hair loss
The other day we received a note from a young lady who is experiencing serious hair loss around her edges and further into her crown due to chemical damage from her relaxer.
Every time she relaxes, her hair gets worse and worse, but she is caught in a cycle because if she chooses to go natural she faces backlash from her family and friends at school that ridicule her about her natural hair.
I mention this young lady because I beleive this is where it begins, this is why black women are singled out. There is a definite pattern among black women that have to do with manipulating our kinky* hair to the point of damage and loss. Perms, tight braids, and weaves* common to black women is what leads to extensive hair loss within our community and it gets worse when we do not support each other when we try to get our hair healthy.
“Women who use these styling practices tend to use them repeatedly, and long-term repeated use can result in hair loss,” says Lenzy, who worked with the Black Women’s Health Study at Boston University to survey nearly 6,000 African-American women about hair loss.
According to Dr. Lenzy, the No. 1 cause of hair loss in African-American women is a condition called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), a disorder in which inflammation and destruction of hair follicles causes scarring and permanent hair loss. She says this population is also prone to traction alopecia, a type of hair loss caused by styles that pull the hair too tight. In addition to these conditions, she says, African-American women also may be affected by other hair disorders like female pattern baldness.
Dr. Lenzy and other experts believe that genetic predisposition may be a major factor in hair loss among African-American women. Additionally, she says, these women may increase their risk of hair loss by frequently engaging in damaging hair styling practices like 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.”
The importance of this study is clear, if you want to reduce the chance of experiencing hair loss that is nongenetic it is important to style in moderation and let good sense prevail.
If your hair is chemically damaged, more chemicals will not improve the condition, it makes it worse. If your hair line is receding due to tight braids, you have to walk away from those styles to give your hair time to recover.
Read more on this study here.