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African American Females Guide to Alopecia

This post was recently updated on March 28th, 2023.

The majority of African American females feel pain when styling their hair. It is important to note that nobody should feel pain when styling their hair. Prolonged pain when styling leads to a condition called alopecia. The reality is, many black women experience hair loss to some degree.

What is Traction Alopecia?

The term Alopecia is defined as the partial or complete loss of hair in the body. Alopecia areata is a disease in which the body attacks its own hair follicles, which in turn, causes hair loss.

Traction alopecia is hair loss that occurs specifically due to the constant or repeated pulling of hair. For black women, this type of hair loss can be due to wearing hair in a ponytail, bun, or braids.

How does Alopecia Affect Black Women?

In black females, traction alopecia may manifest itself as a small bump that takes after the pimples. As the situation progresses, the main manifestation is broken and missing hair. The hair along the sides and front of the scalp are often the most affected.

Black African American females are more prone to alopecia than white female Americans. Three types of alopecia affect black females are:

  1. Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA)
  2. Breakage
  3. Traction Alopecia

Of the three, traction alopecia is the most common type of alopecia in black females. Not only does traction alopecia occur in areas where the hair is constantly pulled, but also it appears as thinning at the hairline.

Signs of Alopecia

Depending on your hairstyle, black women may notice other areas on your scalp that show hair loss. Here are some features of traction alopecia:

  • Scaling
  • Bumps
  • Itching
  • Visible redness of the scalp
  • Soreness
  • Stinging sensation in certain areas of the scalp
  • Pus-filled blisters on the scalp
  • Inflammation of the hair follicles

Causes of Alopecia in Black Women

In addition to the repeated pulling of hair, traction alopecia can be caused by several factors. These include:

  • Use of rollers. Rollers may cause damage if the hair is already fragile and rolled too tight. If rollers are used daily, they subject the hair to pressure. Tightly wound rollers may cause breakage along the hair shaft or from the root of the hair shaft. As a result, this could lead to permanent loss of hair.
  • Wearing extensions or a weave. For most black women, wearing extensions is one of the ways of switching up hairstyles. However, wearing these extensions may damage your natural hair, which may later amount to hair loss if precautions are not taken. While wearing extensions or weaves often requires women to pull their hair tightly, which threatens the natural hair. The tightening of hair and the constant pulling can cause the falling off of the strands of hair or damage to the hair follicle. The effect of this is the permanent loss of hair.
  • Use of hair relaxers. Hair relaxers align the hair by penetrating the cortex and the cuticle layers of the hair shaft to loosen the natural hair. This act leaves the hair prone to breakage, weak, and brittle. Hair relaxers may further lead to permanent damage to the scalp and result in hair loss.

Solutions to Alopecia

To slow or prevent traction alopecia completely, here are some solutions we recommend:

  • Avoid hair relaxers. Avoiding hair relaxers will help protect the natural hair from breakage and being brittle, thus making it stronger.
  • Avoid tight extensions and weaves. Stay away from wearing tight extensions and weaves. This helps prevent the scalp from damage but also helps protect strands of hair from being pulled out.
  • Avoid using rollers. Try to avoid the use of hair rollers daily. This practice helps African American women protect their hair from being exposed to pressure, thereby preventing the breakage along the hair shaft.
  • Use thick braids. If you plan to braid your hair, ensure the braids are thick. Thin braids will pull your hair more tightly.
  • Change hairstyles. Every few weeks, consider changing hairstyles. Alternating hairstyles can reduce the consistent pulling of your hair.
  • Use low heat settings. Consider using lower heat settings for a hair dryer or flat iron.

Closing Out

Traction alopecia affects black women, but with these tips, it can be avoided.

Consider scheduling a consultation with us at Natural Transplants Hair Restoration Clinic to learn how we can help African American women treat alopecia and prevent your hair from falling out. Take a look at the before and after images of female hair transplants.

Our clinics are located in South Florida and Washington DC areas and offer travel incentives for our patients.