Many women put a lot of time, money and effort into their hair because it makes them feel beautiful and confident. Unfortunately, excessive use of harsh styling techniques can damage hair and cause hair loss, as many African American women have experienced.
A recent survey from 2016 indicates that nearly half of all African American women have experienced hair loss. According to researchers, the leading cause of this hair loss is a condition called Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA). CCCA occurs when inflammation and destruction of hair follicles causes scarring and permanent hair loss. This condition typically affects the crown and is often caused by excessive use of hot combs and chemicals, such as those found in relaxers, dyes and bleaches. Genetic and autoimmune components are also being researched as contributing factors.
Experts say African American women are also prone to a type of hair loss called traction alopecia, which results from hairstyles that pull tightly on the roots of the hair. This type of hair loss may be seen in women who frequently wear extensions, weaves, braids, corn rows, tight ponytails, and barrettes. These styles can damage hair, especially when they’re worn repeatedly over a long period of time.
Early signs of hair loss can include a widening of the part, thinning hair overall and patches of hair that don’t grow back. Inflammation caused by CCCA can begin with scalp tingling and itching. A tender scalp can also be a warning sign that something is wrong. However, women sometimes dismiss these symptoms as trivial, causing their hair loss to go undiagnosed. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Women who are experiencing hair loss should consider modifying their styling practices. Instead of wearing tight styles that pull on your hair’s roots, try a softer, looser version of your favorite look to lessen the chances of breakage and damage. Chemical hair treatments can also damage the sensitive skin on your scalp. Embrace your natural texture and beauty to give your hair and scalp a chance to recover.