What’s the most common cause for hair loss in black women?

Hair loss can be the result of many different factors, or sometimes a combination of factors. In the same way that men and women can suffer from different types of hair loss, different types of women can be prone to different hair loss complaints. Some of these conditions are hereditary, some have medical causes, while others can be caused or exacerbated by lifestyle choices. The latter of these, luckily, is the type that you’re more likely to be able to address with relative ease.

Black women have a greater tendency to suffer from a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia because of the hair styles and products that they tend to favour for their hair. Traction alopecia is where styling choices put stress and strain on hair follicles, causing patchy baldness where the follicles have been put under the most pressure.

Troublesome styling choices

The types of styles that have traditionally been linked with traction alopecia are tight ‘ballerina’ buns, corn-weaves and braids. The extended periods of stress that these styles place on the follicles cause them to become damaged and the hair can fall out. It is more commonly linked with these styles as they are often worn for weeks or months at a time, never giving your follicles time to relax and recover.

The good news is that this is often not permanent. If the cause of the hair loss is correctly identified and the styles are softened, or worn less frequently, then this gives the hair follicles times to recover. In time, the hair will grow back, although this is not a quick process.

Harsh chemicals

Other causes of hair loss for black women that can put unnecessary pressure on hair follicles is processes such chemical relaxing. This is a very popular treatment in the Afro-Caribbean community, as it relaxed tight curls and allows a range of different styles to be achieved. The danger with this type of procedure is that is can cause the hair to become brittle and break, which is known as traumatic alopecia.

Underlying hair loss conditions

Finally, there is also a condition that black women are more likely to suffer from, called ‘Central Centrifugal Cicatrical Alopecia’ (understandably shorted to CCCA). This is whereby the centre parting widens and the scalp changes in look and appearance. This is because of ‘scarring’ to the head left by the degenerating follicles. Like traction and traumatic alopecia, the theory is that this type of hair loss also results from a combination of styling and product choices that have a detrimental effect in the health of the scalp and the hair follicles.

What to do if this sounds familiar

As with any condition that is the result of personal choices, the best way to avoid the issue is to adjust your lifestyle choices to mitigate against the changes of the problem occurring in the first place. If you favour tight hair styles or indulge in chemical treatments for your hair, consider reducing the frequency of these to give your hair follicles an opportunity to relax and recover.

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