There are many myths about black women and their hair – it doesn’t grow, it is nappy, it is unmanageable, it is not professional…the list goes on. Some may say there is no smoke without fire but these are all false. Black women do however suffer with very high rates of hair loss.
Hair loss is the common name for alopecia and can be defined as ‘greater than average loss of hair from the scalp or body. There are many forms of alopecia which occur due to a multitude of factors and have differing symptoms. Black women commonly develop traction alopecia as a result of common hair practices which can cause severe damage over time.
Traction (or traumatic) alopecia is the loss of hair due to excessive tension being placed on the hair. It is frequently caused by tight and heavy braided styles or constantly wearing ponytails. The damage usually occurs over a long period of time and can be hard to spot until it is too late.
In the beginning, tension bumps may appear at the root and some may even force the entire hair out of the follicles with the white sheath intact. In most cases the hair can grow back but if this repeatedly occurs the follicles become scarred and can no longer produce hair.
Many women will notice a gradual thinning and recession of the hairline especially at the temples where the is a mix of different types of hair. Villus hair is usually found on the body, however as we age, scalp hair seems to revert back to this type. With the added tension and hair fall, the scalp undergoes an increased number of hair cycles which ‘age’ the hair faster and results in finer and more sparse strands. If the hair is not completely shed from the root it can break further down the shaft and leave short stubble looking hairs.
If you notice the symptoms early this condition can be reversible by stopping the action which leads to the damage.
Most women will ignore the warning signs out of embarrassment, not wanting to change styles or even realizing they are causing the problem. In these cases, permanent damage is usually caused and the follicles are no longer able to produce hair at a commercially acceptable level.
At this point it is best to visit a doctor who specializes in hair restoration treatments. Most will offer surgical and non-surgical plans that can improve not only the look but the health of your hair. It is important that your doctor is able to diagnose the cause of your hair loss and should be well versed in afro hair care as it differs greatly to that of other races.
Help with Hair Edge Loss
Are you looking for a permanent solution to edge loss? Dr. John Frank is an expert in helping black women restore their own natural-looking edges regardless of their current condition. Schedule a free online or in-person consultation, or learn more at the doctor’s website.