- Traction alopecia
- Central cicatricial centrifugal alopecia
Causes Of Hair Loss In African American Women: TRACTION ALOPECIA
Traction alopecia is the gradual loss of hair due to a frequent or constant abrasive pulling force on the hair. This is the leading cause of hair loss among African American women because of cultural hair styling, which frequently involves:
- Extensions: When the rear lower scalp hair is tightly braided into horizontal rows to have hair additions sewn in with thread. This adds length and thickness to the existing hair.
- Weaving: When hair additions are added all over the head, not just to the lower-rear scalp. This can be done through braiding, fusion, bonding, and netting. Whether the technique uses braid-threading or glue, both are damaging and can lead to profound hair loss.
- Braiding and Corn Rows: This styling choice involves braiding all of the hair, sometimes braiding hair additions into the existing hair, which is knotted at the root. The hair may hang loose from the head, or be braided into tight rows of French braids, which are called corn rows.
- Ponytails: When the hair is pulled back tightly from the face and gathered into one or more bunches with a rubber band or hair-tie.
- Barrettes: A styling accessory to hold the hair in place can even lead to hair loss in African American women over time.
A sufferer of traction alopecia will begin to see gradual and noticeable hair loss along the peripheral margins of the scalp. This includes the anterior and posterior hairline, the temples, and behind the ears. Due to these popular hairstyles, many African American women will experience traction alopecia.
Causes Of Hair Loss In African American Women: CENTRAL CICATRICIAL CENTIFUGAL ALOPECIA
This condition, more simply referred to as CCCA, is a form of traction alopecia in association with chemical relaxers, oils, gels, dyes, and bleaches that essentially weaken the keratin structure of the follicle, thus reducing its tensile strength. It initially became a cause for concern in the 1950s, when the hair loss seemed a direct result of petrolatum in combination with the use of a hot comb. Other names for CCCA include:
- Hot comb alopecia
- Pseudopelade in African Americans
- Follicular degeneration syndrome
This number two leading cause of hair loss among African American women is a source for thinning not only along the periphery of the scalp, but also at the center. Consistent chemical processing of the hair along with frequent “pulling” hairstyles make for an unfavorable combination with regard to maintaining a full, healthy head of hair.
Hair Loss In African American Women: SOLUTIONS
Fortunately, there are curative options for these additional forms of alopecia. As with other types of baldness, the solutions range from the non-surgical to the surgical, from the temporary to the permanent. Treatment may include:
- Wigs (that are not sewn to the remaining hair on the scalp, but rest on the scalp freely)
(read more about Dr Umar’s approach to this treatment below)
- Hair transplant
Use of Wigs
Wigs are a temporary solution. They may become displaced in adverse weather conditions and during strenuous activity, and may not be worn in water. For women who are used to having hair additions affixed to the existing hair though braid-threading or gluing, it may be difficult to resist having a wig similarly affixed to the scalp. However, to prevent further hair loss, such habitual actions must not be taken.
Minoxidil is the only FDA-approved pharmaceutical on the market to fight women’s hair loss. A 2% concentration of minoxidil comes in the widely known commercial brand, Women’s Rogaine, and can be purchased over the counter at any drug store. This topical treatment is usually applied to the affected area twice per day.
Hair Transplant For Women
Hair transplant is an option for most women. Dr. Umar practices an advanced form of follicular unit extraction (FUE) hair transplant using his signature tool, uGraft. His method of hair transplant is scalpel free, typically leaves little scarring, is safe, and is minimally invasive. In addition, Dr. Umar has treated patients of varying ethnic backgrounds, including African Americans, and he has also treated women. Thus he is able to navigate the curly nature of the follicle and the female-specific need for shaving the donor area in a discreet and easy-to-conceal manner.